over the waterfall with the wave of the future

…throw the baby out with the bath water. Futurism and how to wipe out every vestige of the past. It was a passionate manifesto and a disastrous political counterpart…

With the launching of futurism, as R.W. Flint once observed, Marineti was to become, with Apollinaire and Picasso, one of “the three main fomentors of twentieth-century modernism.” Besides Apollinaire, he made converts of, among others, such towering talents as Vladimir Mayakovsky in Russia and D.H. Lawrence in England of all people. That so martial, machine-oriented, and anti-humanitarian a creed as futurism should have aroused enthusiasm in such quarters seems puzzling- until one recalls how things were in Europe in the years just before World War I.

—Marinetti expressed a passionate loathing of everything old, especially political and artistic tradition. “We want no part of it, the past”, he wrote, “we the young and strong Futurists!” The Futurists admired speed, technology, youth and violence, the car, the airplane and the industrial city, all that represented the technological triumph of humanity over nature, and they were passionate nationalists. They repudiated the cult of the past and all imitation, praised originality, “however daring, however violent”, bore proudly “the smear of madness”, dismissed art critics as useless, rebelled against harmony and good taste, swept away all the themes and subjects of all previous art, and gloried in science.—Read More:http://c20thdesign.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/futurism-shane-h/

Although Italy, with her countless reminders of departed glory, was a special case, the weight of the past, of tradition, was only relatively less oppressive in the industrialized countries to the north; established culture lay embalmed in glass cases or was carefully nurtured, in the universities, by a self-perpetuating mandarinate of scholar-curators; and popular taste everywhere tended toward the shallow, the sentimental, the mediocre. Kitsch. The age was also, paradoxically, one of extremely rapid technological change- more rapid than any period since- think Toffler’s “future shock” – with cars, planes,movies, phones, elevators, subways and trams, that transformed the lives of the urban masses; and kindled in the restless young the hope that technology might one day deliver them from the tedium of a social order whose most sacrosanct values were those of the counting house.

Of the axis of –isms that rocked the world at the start of the twentieth-century — Dadaism, Surrealism, and Futurism — the first was short-lived anarchy, the second eventually smoothed itself into a kind of aesthete’s party with conferences and rules, and the third turned out to be visceral, violent, and various. Is it a coincidence that le Futurisme originated first, in 1909, several years before Dadaism took shape or Surrealism after that? Well, art history is built on coincidences that appear later as arrows on a timeline of the sort that Alfred Barr proposed for the Museum of Modern Art in 1936. For the Dadaists who came together in 1916, the First World War’s negation of the natural order of things evoked by the artists started with their nonsensical name. By the time the Surrealists organized in 1924, it was almost a boy’s club. Where the Futurist founder Filippo Tomasso Marinetti had called for the destruction of “monuments, libraries, and academies of every kind,” the Surrealists dreamt about women’s breasts and proclaimed (in Magritte’s legendary non sequitur), “ceci n’est pas une pipe.”—Read More:http://arttattler.com/commentaryfuturismanniversary.html

So pervasive among young intellectuals and artists was disenchantment with bourgeois institutions, including parliamentary democracy; so intense their yearning for heroic action; so total their ignorance of the realities of modern warfare, that large numbers of them openly wished that war might come. Marinetti’s exaltation of war, “the world’s only hygiene,” evoked,not shudders of horror, but nods of assent.

But it was in Italy that the central drama of futurism was played out, a drama which, often at the bidding of it irrepressible impresario-director, lapsed frequently into low farce. Futurism’s public manner owed much to promotional techniques pioneered by American hucksters: in Venice one Sunday afternoon in July, Marinetti sounded a trumpet blast from the loggia of the Clock Tower and then, with his confederates, flung down several thousand printed copies of a leaflet entitled “Against Past-loving Venice” as he bellowed the text through a megaphone.

Then there were the “futurist evenings” in hired theaters, which often provoked audiences to riot. When not declaiming his own poetry, Marinetti might get painter-composer Luigi Russolo to perform on his noisemakers. Marinetti’s highly onomatopoeic poems likewise bristled with verbal mimicry of, naturally, rifle fire, artillery barrages, and exploding shells. ….( to be continued)…

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