Umberto Boccioni States of Mind: The Farewells 1911 figures moving in swirls of colou

Umberto Boccioni
States of Mind: The Farewells 1911
Stati d’animo: Gli addii, Oil on canvas

Civiche Raccolte d’Arte, Museo del Novecento, Milan

In order to gain a full immersion in everyday life, the Futurist painters set out to capture psychological as well as physical states. ‘The picture must be the synthesis of what one remembers and of what one sees,’ they claimed in The Exhibitors to the Public, the introduction to the 1912 exhibition. Rather than a psychoanalytic uncovering of the unconscious, they tapped into emotional states that amplified and defined experience. These were achieved through the complex interleaving and fragmentati on of forms in their paintings. 

The most remarkable of these works were Boccioni’s two triptychs entitled States of Mind. His theme is the excitement of travel and the simultaneous turmoil of separation. After making the first triptych, he and Carrà visited Paris in late 1911. The second triptych reflected his response to the stylistic qualities of Cubism seen there but his theme remained unchanged. ‘We thus create a sort of emotive ambience,’ the 1912 catalogue claimed, ‘seeking by intuition the sympathies and the links which exist between the exterior (concrete) scene and the interior (abstract) emotion.’