Futurism: room guide, room 7, Words in Freedom Room 7, Words in Freedom

Marinetti was a master of publicity, and his writings and dealings with the public and press set the tone for the controversies surrounding Futurism. The movement was defined by the manifestoes and books that he published, which were distributed in many languages. As well as art, Marinetti wanted to revolutionise writing itself. He promoted the idea of ‘words-in-freedom’, liberating language through radical poetic and typographical techniques: ‘Condensed metaphors. Telegraphic images. Maximum vibrations. Nodes of thought.’ 

The books, periodicals and critical reception gathered in this room provide just a sample of the wave of publication that swept Futurism across Europe. A key contributor to this international interplay was the writer, theorist and choreographer Valentine de Saint-Point. Her work was a counterpoint and parallel to Marinetti’s renowned sexism. In 1912, Saint-Point’s Manifesto of Futurist Women made a direct response to his dismissive ‘scorn for women’. Her view of the role of women did not match the contemporary demand for equality made by the Suffragettes but rather proposed that both sexes needed to become more masculine. Skilled in Futurist provocation, Saint-Point rejected romanticism and, in her Futurist Manifesto of Lust, declared: ‘Art and war are the great manifestations of sensuality: lust is their flower.’