Futurism was an Italian art movement of the early twentieth century that aimed to capture in art the dynamism and energy of the modern world
Futurism was launched by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. On 20 February he published his Manifesto of Futurism on the front page of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro.
Among modernist movements futurism was exceptionally vehement in its denunciation of the past. This was because in Italy the weight of past culture was felt as particularly oppressive. In the Manifesto, Marinetti asserted that ‘we will free Italy from her innumerable museums which cover her like countless cemeteries’. What the futurists proposed instead was an art that celebrated the modern world of industry and technology:
We declare…a new beauty, the beauty of speed. A racing motor car…is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace. (A celebrated ancient Greek sculpture in the Louvre museum in Paris.)
After the brutality of the first world war, many artists rejected the avant-garde notions of futurism and other pre-war movements, by using more traditional and reassuring approaches, a phenomenon described as the ‘return to order’.
Futurism in Tate’s collection
- See futurist artworks in Tate’s collection
- Or browse the selection of works in the slideshow below
This exhibition which was on display at Tate Modern in 2009, showed futurist artworks alongside works associated with art movements that reacted to futurism. Read the room guide and see which artworks were on display.
Artists in focus
Boccioni was a major sculptor as well as painter. He became the main theorist of the movement.
Read the biography for Umberto Boccioni in Art & artists.
Work of the Week: Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni
Read our blog post which explains why this sculpture was an icon of the new modern world.
C.R.W Nevinson: England’s only futurist
Read the biography for C.R.W Nevinson in Art & artists.
Listen to a lecture by Michael K. Walsh, which tells the story of Futurism’s soujourn in London and its relationship with the nation’s only disciple.
Historian and writer Matthew Green writes about Nevinson’s The Soul of the Soulless City (‘New York – an Abstraction’) and argues that New York revived Nevinson’s futurist sensibilities, which had lain dormant since the war.
Futurism in context
What comes across from all of these great works is a great sense of energy, of artistic change and of dynamism, as Britain becomes modernised and the centre of an empire.
Curator Chris Stephens discusses the Tate artworks which are on display in the 1910–1914 room at Tate Britain, a time when futurism was in its element.
Bring the noise
Two art professionals explore the futurists’ legendary and provocative performances which led the way for avant-garde participatory art in the twentieth century.
Futurism in detail
Futurism and the Avant-Garde conference video recordings
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.