Art Chantry (firstname.lastname@example.org):
This is something I clipped somewhere a while back. No recollection of where it was, or when it was. I don’t know who did this and I don’t know when it was created, or whether this was a single one-off piece or a commercially available multiple. In fact I know precious little about it. If you look carefully at it, you’ll see what appears to be a simple piece of wood or metal turned on a lathe. It looks like an insulator from a high tension power line. Or a decorative finial for an end post.
But, if you look closer, look at the edge of the piece, you can plainly see that it’s a profile of a man. It looks like a face spinning so fast that it becomes a blurred shape. Isn’t this a marvelous idea? It seems so obvious an object when you finally see it that you wonder why somebody hasn’t picked up this idea and just RUN with it. Try to imagine a company that takes a profile shot of you and spins it on a lathe and gives you a portrait of yourself. There HAS to be a market for this idea. Headstones in graveyards could become delightful again.
This amazing chunk of machined artwork is a futurist portrait of Benito Mussolini, the guy who invented fascism. It’s sort of perfect. It says everything you need to know about Mussolini in a single physical block. The futurists were an art movement that championed fascism, strangely. The Italian futurists, for all their love of motion and the machine and starkness and shape and color, were one of the driving forces that brought us the political movement that resulted in the third Reich in Hitler’s Germany. Context is everything and I always find it hard to understand this ‘butterfly effect’ of art movements that result in cultural/political disasters. But, the history is there. You just have to go look.
Mussolini was a short stocky, brutal pompous cartoon of a man with a strutting demeanor and jutting jaw line and shaved head. He was so silly and goofy that he made Trump seem serious. If he wasn’t so damn deadly, we all would have laughed the guy out of the limelight. But, instead he spawned one of the most inherently evil human political forces of the last century. Remember that the next time you vote for a clown.
On Walter Benjamin: He admits that all artists are unbound and that pure expressionism is a choice as much as any other aesthetic choice. However, he argues that expressionism that is given only to itself can be coralled by a autocrat to fit the populist purposes that lie underneath the surface of the artist’s expressionism. He is afraid that, like the Futurists Boccioni and Marinetti, supposing art qua art a superior expression of one’s life over all other concerns is a step removed from thinking that adherence to any other action that takes that expression seriously, a worthwhile pursuit. Hence, if an autocrat were to seek to show war as pure experience and that experience could unchain the artist in fits of pure expression, then war could be thought of as beautiful. As the Futurists thought, movement and material could be placed at the feet of the war machine; the world, cleansed of all other order, would begin anew and this pure expression, where art was thought itself, would, at the limit approach the Platonic Ideal. Read More:http://blackandwhiteandthings.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/walter-benjamin-fascism-and-doubt/
Benjamin ends The Work of Art by assailing the violence of Futurism, and the Italian author Marinetti, diagnosing the cause of it’s nihilistic abandon as self-alienation.
Marinetti: Poets and artists of Futurism… remember these principles of an aesthetic of war, that they may illuminate… your struggles for a new poetry and a new sculpture!
Benjamin: [Humankind’s] self-alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticizing of politics, as practiced by fascism. Communism replies by politicizing art….
…Marinetti: The Futurist Manifesto
We went up to the three snorting machines to caress their breasts. I lay along mine like a corpse on its bier, but I suddenly revived again beneath the steering wheel — a guillotine knife — which threatened my stomach. A great sweep of madness brought us sharply back to ourselves and drove us through the streets, steep and deep, like dried up torrents. Here and there unhappy lamps in the windows taught us to despise our mathematical eyes. “Smell,” I exclaimed, “smell is good enough for wild beasts!” Read More:http://samdwyer.com/the-aestheticized-politics-of-lady-gaga-decon
Mark Vallen:However, while the Futurist vision of a machine world was brilliantly expressed aesthetically, it was doomed to ultimate failure because it was coupled with fascist ideology. Marinetti’s angry manifesto heralded a new art movement but also prefigured the fascist takeover of Italy. In his original statement Marinetti proclaimed, “We want to glorify war – the only cure for the world.”…In retrospect it’s easy to be dismissive of the Futurists for their close connections to Benito Mussolini, but their rhetoric was remarkably similar in tone to things I hear and read today. How is our current infatuation with technology any different than theirs? The Futurist glorification of patriotism, love of the military, empire and strong leadership, along with a militant disdain for pacifists and feminists – begs the question, “How do you know you are not a fascist?” Read More:http://art-for-a-change.com/blog/2006/02/back-to-futurists.html