A collection of video recordings from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and the Avant-Garde

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 1: Introduction

This is the video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and the Avant-Garde, and is the introduction to the event

This symposium explores the controversial status of Futurist movements in art history, and some of their ‘avant-garde’ practices. Speakers engage with various forms of Futurist art, performance and film, including the use of manifestos and demonstrations. Italian Futurism will be viewed in relation to other radical art practices across Europe. The Futurists’ disdain for traditional values and their pursuit of an ‘art of modern life’ will be explored in relation to prevailing concepts of modernity and ‘avant-garde’ utopias. Speakers include curator Matthew Gale, art historians Mary Ann Caws and David Cottington, historian Alex Danchev, film historian Lutz Becker and writer and artist Tom McCarthy.

This symposium will be of particular interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students of modern and contemporary art, and those studying Open University courses AA318 (Art of the Twentieth Century), A216 (Art and its Histories) and the MA in Art History.

In collaboration with The Open University.

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 2: David Cottington

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker David Cottington, Professor of Art History at Kingston University London

Session 1: Futurism and The Avant-Garde

Speaker: David Cottington, Professor of Art History at Kingston University London, and the author of several books on the early twentieth century avant-garde

It is a commonplace of art history to observe that Italian futurism was among the first movements of the artistic avant-garde. But these terms, and the implications for understanding both futurist art and its significance for western modernism, are not often examined. What was ‘the avant-garde’, why did it emerge when it did, and what influence did it have on the sudden appearance of futurism on the European cultural stage? These are some of the questions that this talk addresses, with particular attention to the impact of cubism on the development of futurist painting and sculpture, and to the ways in which its innovations were adapted, and re-exported, by the Italian artists.

Suggested Further Reading

Peter Burger, Theory of the Avant-Garde (U of Minnesota Press, 1984)

Raymond Williams, ‘The Politics of the Avant-Garde’, in his book The Politics of Modernism (London: Verso, 1989)

David Cottington, Cubism (London: Tate Publishing, 1998)

Richard Humphreys, Futurism (London: Tate Publishing, 1998)

Norman Stone, Europe Transformed: 1878-1919 (London: Fontana, 1984)

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 3: Matthew Gale

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker Matthew Gale, Curator (Modern Art) and Head of Displays at Tate Modern.

Session 2: ‘The raging broom of madness’: making an exhibition of Futurism

Speaker: Matthew Gale, Curator (Modern Art) and Head of Displays at Tate Modern

The presentation covers some of the ideas, issues and decisions that went into making Futurism at Tate Modern. It covers a range from conception to installation, including such concerns as how to present the manifestos and what happened to Balla’s dog?

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 4: Alex Danchev

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker Alex Danchev, Professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham

Session 3: Futurism: art and life and politics

Speaker: Alex Danchev, Professor of International Relations at the University of Nottingham

The Futurist project was ambitious, not to say grandiose. It outran art to embrace life. It was also intensely political. This talk broaches the politics of Futurism—its connections with various other isms, including anarchism and Fascism, and its position on militarism, violence, and war.

Suggested Further Reading

Gunter Berghaus (ed), F T Marinetti Critical Writings (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006)

Marjorie Perloff, The Futurist Movement (Chicago UP, 2003)

Christine Poggi, Inventing Futurism (Princeton UP, 2008)

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 5: Discussion 1

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde and features a discussion

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 6: Vita Futurista

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker Lutz Becker, director of political and art documentaries such as Double Headed Eagle 1972, Lion of Judah 1981 and Nuremberg in History 2006.

Session 4: Vita Futurista

Speaker: Lutz Becker, director of political and art documentaries such as Double Headed Eagle 1972, Lion of Judah 1981 and Nuremberg in History 2006

A new version of Becker’s acclaimed film Vita Futurista is being released on the occasion of the 2009 Centenary of Italian Futurism. It covers the story of Futurism from its beginnings in 1909 till the 1930s. The exhibition presented by Tate Modern concentrates on the first phase of Futurism which ended with the death of Boccioni in 1916. The film continues the history of Futurism through its second phase. During the 1920s and 30s Marinetti, in an effort to re-establish Futurism, led a new generation of artists to develop concepts and projects of continuing significance. This new beginning was exemplified in the Manifesto ‘The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe’ signed by Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero. Fascism eventually usurped the modernising energy of the Futurists, which affected the historical reputation of the movement. Only now, with the distance of time, can Futurism be fully appreciated as one of the most important sources of essential concepts of modern art.

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 7: Mary-Ann Caws

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker Mary-Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature, Graduate School, City University of New York

Session 5: Manifesting

Speaker: Mary-Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of English, French, and Comparative Literature, Graduate School, City University of New York

A look at a selection of visual manifestos, in their relation to verbal ones—what sorts of crossover features might we determine (or invent), with our post-event imaginations running high, as in the original big and loud futurist ones? A quick dada/surrealist spin will be put on the whole thing, with additional thoughts after the Venice Biennale sneaking in.

Suggested Further Reading

Mary Ann Caws, ed. Manifestos: a Century of Isms (University of Nebraska Press, 2000)

Mary Ann Caws, The Art of Interference: Stressed Readings in Verbal and Visual Texts (Cambridge: Polity, 1989)

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 8: Tom McCarthy

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde, with speaker Tom McCarthy, whose first novel, Remainder, won The Believer Book Award 2007

Session 6: These panels are our only models for the composition of poetry, or, How Marinetti taught me how to write

Speaker: Tom McCarthy, his first novel, Remainder, won The Believer Book Award 2007 and is currently being adapted for cinema by Film4

Marinetti’s proclamations about literature—what it should and shouldn’t be, the operations that it should attempt and tendencies that it should shun—outline a vision whose scope goes far beyond the boundaries of the middle-brow novel. This talk, by a crossover novelist/artist, asks what characteristics a genuinely Marinettian contemporary literature might have.

Suggested Further Reading

JG Ballard, Crash

Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

William Burroughs, Nova Express

Francis Ponge, La Partie Pris des Choses

James Joyce, Ulysses

Futurism and the Avant-Garde – Part 9: Discussion 2

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde and features a discussion from the event

This is a video recording from the Tate Modern conference Futurism and The Avant-Garde and features a discussion from the event

This symposium explores the controversial status of Futurist movements in art history, and some of their ‘avant-garde’ practices. Speakers engage with various forms of Futurist art, performance and film, including the use of manifestos and demonstrations. Italian Futurism will be viewed in relation to other radical art practices across Europe. The Futurists’ disdain for traditional values and their pursuit of an ‘art of modern life’ will be explored in relation to prevailing concepts of modernity and ‘avant-garde’ utopias. Speakers include curator Matthew Gale, art historians Mary Ann Caws and David Cottington, historian Alex Danchev, film historian Lutz Becker and writer and artist Tom McCarthy.

This symposium will be of particular interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students of modern and contemporary art, and those studying Open University courses AA318 (Art of the Twentieth Century), A216 (Art and its Histories) and the MA in Art History.

In collaboration with The Open University.