Italian art movement of the early twentieth century that aimed to capture in art the dynamism, energy and movement of the modern world

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  • Giacomo Balla, 'Abstract Speed - The Car has Passed' 1913

    Giacomo Balla
    Abstract Speed - The Car has Passed 1913
    Oil on canvas
    support: 502 x 654 mm frame: 552 x 704 x 52 mm
    Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1970 DACS, 2002

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  • Umberto Boccioni, 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space' 1913, cast 1972

    Umberto Boccioni
    Unique Forms of Continuity in Space 1913, cast 1972
    Bronze
    object: 1175 x 876 x 368 mm
    Purchased 1972

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  • Gino Severini, 'Suburban Train Arriving in Paris' 1915

    Gino Severini
    Suburban Train Arriving in Paris 1915
    Oil on canvas
    support: 886 x 1156 mm frame: 1051 x 1320 x 95 mm
    Purchased with assistance from a member of the Art Fund 1968 ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

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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.)

Futurist painting used elements of neo-impressionism and cubism to create compositions that expressed the idea of the dynamism, the energy and movement, of modern life.

Chief artists associated with futurism were Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini. Boccioni was a major sculptor as well as painter.