The Italian Futurists

Published as the introduction to the catalog accompanying the show Futurism: Concepts and Imaginings at the Boca Museum of Art, Florida. January 8 – March  30, 2014.

Cover of the catalog for Futurism: Concepts and Imaginings, featuring a detail of a work by Pippo Rizzo.
Cover of the catalog for Futurism: Concepts and Imaginings, featuring a detail of a work by Pippo Rizzo.

The last thing that an Italian Futurist artist would countenance was art criticism that idealized their art or “embalmed” it in complex abstractions that they felt were fit for stodgy academe. The Futurists would have preferred that their shows create noise, demonstrations or expressions in movement that enacted responses to their works, decidedly aimed to stir the viewer or listener to action. Italian Futurism was realized not only in painting, but in music, design, and even cuisine, and sought to inspire social transformation well beyond aesthetics or art history. Their imaginative works demanded their own vocabulary outside the realm of the usual artspeak that they believed cloyed the progress of all art.

Futurism remains fresh in its energy and vitality, in its proponents’ refreshing and increasingly rare freedom from self-exploration and self indulgence. The Futurist’s focus held steady on energy, light and motion, or, recalling the title of one of Futurism’s landmark masterpieces, on unique forms of energy in space. From the earliest Futurist works and the industrial age inspiration for those works in the early 1900’s to the present day the movement retains its electricity. It is “news that stays news”, embracing the modern world’s emblems of the machine age. Departing forcefully from the impressionistic style of the 19th century landscape, the representative, ideal figures of Raphaelite realism, the emerging analytical forms of Cubism and the mind expanding proposals of Surrealism, Futurism’s birth stands apart from the linear traditions that derived empirically from the logic and style of predecessor work.

We have come to know Italian Futurism and to take an interest in collecting Futurist art inspired initially through a dear friend of 35 years, modern Futurist artist Edward Giobbi. In Ed’s prolific, sharp and perceptive Futurist oeuvre the constant sense of of invention expressed in stunning, energetic form and shape and image have led us to this movement, irresistibly engaging and evocative. The paintings and drawings on display include concepts, ruminations, imaginative “blueprints” and finished works using a variety of materials to express the directions the artists’ works were taking and would take over the years ahead. We hope you enjoy this exhibit and salute the Museum’s leadership.

They deserve our applause for featuring Italian Futurists on its exciting calendar of modern and contemporary art and for introducing consistently fresh approaches to the understanding and appreciation of art in this beautiful province of Florida.

Stefano and Carole Haarmann Acunto 

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