Umberto Boccioni was a prominent Italian Sculptor and painter that helped shape the aesthetic futurism movement being one of its principle figures. One of his major works of futurism is the Unique Forms of Continuity in Space done in 1913 (Coen, 10). Giacomo Balla was another prominent figure in the futurism movement with one of his work’s Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore) leading the way. Balla was an art teacher, poet, and painter. The two pieces of art are good case practices of the futurist movement that began in February 1909 on the front page of a French newspaper Le Figaro (Canova, 101). It was a publication by F.T. Marinetti who made a Futurist Manifesto announcing a new form of literature that was destined to glorify danger, energy, emphasize speed, war, aggression and to employ the modern places and spaces of industry and transportation. A group of Milan artists later extended the philosophy to art. Umberto Boccioni is one of the most famous futuristic artists and hence the need to analyze the Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, which is also one of the most significant pieces of his art. Moreover, Giacomo Balla took up the movements and made a substantial contribution to the movement through the Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità strata + more) art. The art by Balla and that by Boccioni are both of the futurism movement that makes them of interest and similar to one another in that aspect. Moreover, the two arts have an indication of movement that is a significant similarity carrying a variety of interpretations.
The Unique Forms of Continuity in Space is composed of a human like a figure that appears to be in motion. The sculpture has a fluid form. It has two blocks at its feet that connect it to the ground and is armless without any real face. The sight of a football player moving in entirely complete pass initially inspired its composition and form (Khan Academy). The face of the sculpture is also abstracted from a kind of a cross that point to a helmet. In the absence of arms, it seems to have wing-like forms that ripple back, but the protrusions are not necessarily part of the figure itself since Boccioni had combined the sculpturing of the figure and the environment that surrounded it. The air displaced as the figure moves indicated in the forms that are not different from the body itself. There are some flame-like shapes at the beginning of the calves that indicate the air swirling away from the body. The sculpture also has a fluid and aerodynamic form in that it shows an appearance of air movement. It also has a kind of support to the statue through the two feet being attached to the base of the sculpture.
On the other hand, in the Giacomo Balla's Painting on Abstract Speed- the car has passed, it is composed of color schemes to make representations (Canova, 103). It has green, blue, pink, maroon, and white. The colors are painted oily unvarnished mill board frame. The color schemes of green and blue represent the earth and the sky respectively. The pink is supposed to indicate the exhaust fumes from the passing vehicle. The art also has a geometrical perspective evidenced by the road fading into the distance. There are also lines placed in an abstract manner giving it shape, definition and adding movement to the work. The painting is on an oily canvas for an equal balance. The Canvas is oily to ensure that it gives it the shiny effect ensuring that the colors are visible with clarity and precision.
The color of the Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space was originally white since it was made of plaster just like all the other sculptures at the time. The color later changed to dark colors such as black as the sculpture was interpreted and sculptured in Bronze. The white plastered art looked transient and delicate (Khan Academy). The white color that brought about the theme of transition fitted for the futurist movement that inspired the art, and that was behind the painting. The artist used white to indicate movement from it because it is a delicate color that can easily be stained or spoilt. Moreover, the Futurists wanted to have their works destroyed by other artists that came up with better and more fluid pieces of art with time. They advocated for change, continuity, and not permanence that came with the use of color black or a dull color since it was not destroyed easily as they so wished to witness.
Giacomo Balla's Painting on Abstract Speed has used a variety of colors to depict motion in the art. He uses the color blue to indicate the sky above and the green that represents vegetation and the earth that surrounds the moving car, which is an indication of movement and change as is characteristic of futuristic representations (Canova, 111). The use of color pink and other colors are to indicate the fumes and other fumes in the air as the car moves past. The colors that contrast have also been used to indicate lines that split the colors to indicate movement. It is the lines in white, black, and even maroons that that makes the eye of the viewer move about the sculpture. The artist has therefore used the colors to bring contrast and submit comments on what is happening in the sculpture.
The lines in Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space art are used to emphasize further movement and speed in the art (Coen, 10). The lines are used to show how the muscles and the body ripple outward due to the deformation that result from the acceleration due to fast movement. Moreover, it is the lines used to show the presence of air or wind because of the movement that further indicates the marching forward. The lines have also been used to indicate the absence of the arms to have some wing-like forms that could be due to the external surroundings such as the wind and air as the superhuman like figure moves. It is the lines that Boccioni uses to achieve the "synthetic continuity” aimed at by the art and not the "analytical discontinuity" that he had witnessed with the other artists such as František Kupka and Marcel Duchamp.
Giacomo Balla's painting Abstract Speed - The Car Has passed, used certain lines by placing them abstractly on the sculpture. He uses the lines to make what would have otherwise been an oily symmetrical painted canvas a kind of picture definition. The lines carefully and evenly placed in the sculpture also offer a type of shape to the statue making it easier to look at and guiding the eyes of the viewer to the painting. The lines are also used to split the different colors as represented in the sculpture making it easier to make contrast on the various angles of the sculpture and adding to the movement of the work. Balla further uses the abstract lines to indicate a form of movement and the road that the car takes as it passes past in speed. Also, the use of lines closely together represents the high speed of movement that is in the painting. Giacomo Balla indicates the idea of motion in the art through the use of continuous lines that advance across the surface of the painting. The lines represent sound and movement, and it is the lines that are also crucial to making the eyes of the viewer dart to multiple places of the painting to create a sense of movement and motion.
The representation of the flatness of Giacomo Balla's painting is in the way that he has published it on a canvas. The image of the painting offers to mean to the painting is done on canvas by consciously drawing the attention to the shape of the picture on the canvas and then the properties that are the forms of the art. The sculpture gives more emphasis on the shape of the canvas on, which the art is depicted, with the use of lines and colors. The eyes of the view are not drawn on a central part of the painting but offer multiple perspectives as is assumed with the movement in speed. It is the abstract use of colors and lines in a way that offers the concentration in many areas of the painting that indicates the flatness of the painting. The flatness of the painting is, therefore, an integral and critical component of what we view and the experience of the view of the artwork. It is the canvas on which the painting is done that offers the key flatness of the painting.
On the other hand, the perspective/flatness of the Umberto Boccioni’s painting is depicted in the way that the form of the painting becomes the central center of attraction in the painting. The artist concentrates on giving lines and patterns that enable one to realize the distortion of the lines that also indicates movement and the wind that result to its body and muscles. The artist also uses figurative forms to pass the message of movement in the futurist times. It is the moving superhuman that the artist uses to indicate motion through forming some whirling effects in the lines symbolic of the fast movement indicated by the futuristic movement. The artist uses flatness to symbolize things that exist in the real world by using the human sculpture without arms and bring into consideration the environment that surrounds them through the incorporation of the wind and other effects on the human as they move forward.
Both Unique Forms of Continuity in Space sculpture and Abstract Speed + Sound painting assumed the futuristic technique. They were done during the futuristic movement. Futurism was a 20th-century art movement that later died during the First World War. The Futurists loved engaging on issues that involved speed, machines, cities, pollution, and noise (Gentile, 65). The futurist embraced the new and exciting work that existed at the time instead of engaging in hypocritical enjoying of the comforts of the modern world. They strongly denounced the forces that led to the hypocrisy of enjoying the comfort of the modern day world. The Futurists explored the entire medium of art that included paintings, sculptures, theater, poetry, architecture, music and in some cases gastronomy (Gentile, 65). The movement was started in Milan in 1909 by an Italian poet called Filippo Tommaso Marinetti which launched the Futuristic Manifesto that he published in 1909 in La Gazzetta dell'Emilia. Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, and Giacomo Balla were affiliated with the philosophy as they engaged in painting. Te futurists were highly interested in issues that indicated the triumph of humanity over nature (Khan Academy). They were mostly focused on engaging in areas of technology, speed, violence, and the youth. They praised originality and repudiated the cult or the construction on the past and all its limitations. The futurists painters were, however, slow to develop a distinctive style on the various subject matters. Umberto Boccioni wrote the Manifesto of Futurist Painters in 1910 vowing that the futurist would fight the tradition of museums with all their might. He referred to the existence of museums as an indication of fanaticism, senselessness and that it was snobbish to art. They advocated for having new sculptures coming up and hence did not concentrate on the past but rather every artist needs to come up with new creations that are better than the previous ones (Gentile, 65).
Materiality in the Unique Forms of Continuity in Space has depicted in the choice of material that the artist makes to indicate the fluidity and strength of a form bound to continue. The sculpture is made of strong plaster cast together and later translated into a solid bronze. The plaster can wear if with time as is the philosophy held by the futurists since they did not believe in the permanence of the art to store in a museum but believed that better art should dismantle it. Umberto Boccioni also chooses the plaster since it can be shaped in the right form and shape. The plaster is solid and strong which also indicated continuity. The plaster as the materials used are the willful actors and the agents that entangle the audience in connections that assists in investigating the role played by the materials. It is the material that expands the notion of the time, space and the process involved in the art.
Giacomo Balla, on the Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore), used an oily unvarnished mill board on which the artist painted the frame. The canvas is then the one that is colored or painted with a variety of colors to initiate the realization of the message intended by the artist. It is the material that further examines the notion of time, process, participation and the time as it looks at the way the materials obstruct, interfere with the social norms, and obstruct the viewer as well as the artist. It is the use of an oily canvas that makes it possible for the different colors that the artist uses to show contracts and indicate the earth and the sky to be visible (Petrie,196) . The canvas, unlike other materials, is easy to draw on or even color than other materials. The materials used for the canvas and the paints in different colors have been the crucial tool for making the painting ton have a meaning and has also been the crucial tool to provide the form of the painting.
In conclusion, the Abstract Speed and Sound done by Giacomo Balla between 1913 and 1914 was one of the most interesting paintings done during the Futuristic period. It was initially designed to be part of a series of a series that depicted movement and sound. There are hints of a landscape and sky within it indicated with the color selection as colors are splashed all over the canvas to bring out the message (Petrie,198). The idea of motion as is depicted in the painting as expected for every futuristic piece of art was done through progressive lines that advanced across the surface of the painting. The lines were meant to represent the sound, and also, the colors scattered on different parts of the segments made by the lines ensured that the viewer’s attention is all on the diagram bring out the flatness if the painting. The painting depicts motion and sound in a very abstract manner that makes it a classical example of the obsession that futurist had to depict speed and progress. Umberto Boccioni with the Unique Forms of Continuity in Space was also exemplary with the sculpture. It was a well calculated and intelligent way of depicting motion even by the use of a solid sculpture while at the same time following the manifesto of futurism not to encourage permanence of art since it advocates for dynamism and changes. Umberto Boccioni was an elite leader in the Futuristic movement. His ability to shape up contours on the plaster as an indication of a movement curved by the motion and forces of the wind and speed as the superhuman structure moves. It further reviled traditional sculpture by resembling the realist works through a reminiscent of some of the classical works such as Winged Victory of Samothrace. Auguste Rodin in his Walking Man sculpture reiterates the lack of arms of the sculpture.
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