The first comprehensive retrospective of Italian Futurism in a U.S. museum, lauded by the New York Times as “an epic… phenomenal show,” is now on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The exhibition traces the full development of Futurism in Italy, from its inception with F. T. Marinetti’s publication of the Futurist manifesto in 1909 to its demise at the end of World War II. Featuring more than 360 works, including noted paintings and sculptures such as Giacomo Balla’s Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences (1913) and Benedetta’s Syntheses of Communications (1933–34), which has never before been presented in America, the exhibition also examines the Futurists’ efforts to refashion everyday life through advertising, architecture, design, fashion, film, music, photography, poetry, and theater. “A major exhibition on Italian Futurism in the United States is long overdue,” exhibition curator Vivien Greene says, “And we are especially pleased to introduce audiences to ‘Secondo Futurismo,’ that is, the second and third wave Futurism from the 1920s and ’30s; these works are going to be an exciting discovery.”
While Italian Futurism is on view, the Guggenheim will host a series of events that investigate and present the dynamic and contentious movement. Scholarly programs include Emily Braun’s lecture on April 1 that looks at Marinetti’s Tactilism and its roots in the artist’s experience of trench warfare; Christini Poggi’s May 7 lecture that examines Futurism’s romance with machines, focusing on the works of Ivo Pannagi; and Silvia Barisione’s tour on June 24 that presents design and decorative arts created by Futurist workshops. There will also be Mind’s Eye tours for visitors who are blind or have low vision, and Curator’s Eye tours led by curators who helped organize the exhibition. More events, including performances paying homage to some of the Futurists’ raucous interventions, will be announced in the coming weeks.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Guggenheim blog will run a series of exhibition-related posts, written by curators, historians, and scholars to illuminate specific features of Futurism. Topics include Fortunato Depero’s work in advertising, the Futurist fascination with speed, and the imaginative visual poetry called parole in libertà, or “words-in-freedom,” such as Balla’s Trelsì. . . . Trelnò (1914).
An exhibition website introduces Italian Futurism and provides a selection of the works on view, including Gino Severini’s painting Blue Dancer (1912) and more examples of words-in-freedom poetry. The site also presents themes important to the movement, such as the notion of arte meccanica, or machine aesthetics, and aeropittura, or painting inspired by flight.