Since Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe opened in February, we have been sharing a blog series that delves into this complex and contradictory movement, examining its multi-faceted nature from multiple perspectives. Before the close of the exhibition on September 1, we revisit an array of posts that explored works from various countries and in diverse mediums—including Futurist works in our collection; announced a range of engaging programs; and provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the making of this unparalleled retrospective.
Luca Somigli kicked off our series by exploring the British response to Futurism through the lens of the period’s newspaper cartoons. When a traveling exhibition of works by Italian Futurists came to London, satirical cartoonists “seized upon the subject with gusto,” imagining unlikely ways this challenging new movement might affect British viewers and art alike. Guggenheim curator Natalia Lauricella followed this piece with one that dissected the commercial output of one of Futurism’s most prominent artists: Fortunato Depero. A successful graphic designer in his own right, Depero created striking advertisements, most notably for Campari, but as Lauricella demonstrates, some of his imagery promoted problematic stereotypes.
The Futurists’ obsession with speed and new modes of transport was the subject of Jessica Palmieri’s post, which touched on a range of works that expressed this fascination with machines and movement. We followed her piece with a few posts that peeked at the making of the Italian Futurism exhibition: we divulged how the Guggenheim’s curatorial team incorporated a 1917 performance by Giacoma Balla in the show; Lauricella presented an overview of the Italian Futurism catalogue, and explained how the exhibition’s curator, Vivien Greene, engaged with scholars in a range of disciplines as she addressed some of the exhibition’s key questions; and we revealed how the show was designed, sharing insights from the Guggenheim’s exhibition and graphic designers.
Two recent essays in the series have dealt with spaces created and imagined by the Futurists. Lauricella discussed Depero’s design for the Cabaret del Diavolo, a restaurant and performance space, in the context of the Futurists’ interest in the concept of the “total work of art”; and Sandro Marpillero made astute connections between the architectural philosophies of Antonio Sant’Elia and Angiolo Mazzoni.
Most recently, Vivien Greene presented her thoughts on Umberto Boccioni’s 1910 Riot in the Galleria, which joined the exhibition in May. She explains how the artist used a late 19th-century technique of painting to render the very modern subjects of urban disruption and consumption.
As Italian Futurism enters its final weeks, stop by the museum to see Boccioni’s remarkable painting and hundreds of other Futurist objects, many on view in the United States for the first time. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.