F.P. Marinetti and futurism. The grand effort to wipe out every vestige of the past. As the poet Guillaume Apollinaire wrote in 1913, it was the first collective effort to suppress history in the name of art…
While Filippo Marinetti elaborated literary theories summed up in the slogans “words-in-freedom” and “simultaneity”; postulated a future “metalized man” who would resemble a machine not only in appearance but in actual physical makeup; wrote pamphlets, organized demonstrations, and plotted strategy, his comrades kept up the offensive on other fronts. Futurist painters flirted with cubism; the futurist architect Sant’ Elia drew up plans for “the Futurist house, like a giant machine,” that anticipated Le Corbusier; and futurist mathematicians solemnly “solved” divers metaphysical problems.
But futurism could not have remained isolated from events outside the realm of aesthetics even if Marinetti had wanted it to- which he emphatically did not. In 1911, when an Italian expeditionary force captured Tripoli from the Turks, Marinetti, on the scene as war correspondent, approved by announcing that the Italian government had finally become futurist. The following year, fighting broke out in the Balkans, and in 1913 Marinetti observed the Battle of Adrianople, arriving there, he boasted, in an Isotta Fraschini, the most expensive car of the epoch. But all this was mere voyeurism; he itched to experience the cleansing joy of combat. At last, in August, 1914, the long-awaited “only hygiene” was applied to Europe on a continental scale as all the major powers went to war. All, that is, except Italy, which, though pledged by terms of the triple Alliance to go to the aid of Germany and Austria-Hungary, hung back from honoring her commitment.
From childhood on Marinetti had burned with hatred for Italy’s former oppressor, Austria. And though he admired Nietzsche, he despised the Germans as dull-witted pedants wholly lacking the genial fire that was the hallmark of Italianity. For him, there was no question as to Italy’s course: she must enter the war- on the Allied side.
Marinetti threw his energy into securing this end. Before long, he met an able young newspaper editor named Benito Mussolini: as a socialist, Mussolini favored a policy of neutrality for Italy, but gradually he came around to the futurist’s point of view. And in May,1915, after securing the Allies’ assurance that te lands held by Austria and Serbia would be returned, Italy declared war on her erstwhile diplomatic partners.
Instantly, both men enlisted- Marinetti as an officer, Mussolini as a private. Both were wounded, the latter so badly that he was invalided back home in 1917. The war ended with Italy victorious, but with the nation’s economy in a slump and thousands of veterans roaming the streets looking for work. Mussolini, once again a newspaper editor but no longer a socialist, toyed with the idea of starting a veteran-based political party; and Marinetti, with a characteristically magnanimou
sture, turned over his huge Milan apartment to needy wounded veterans.
In 1919 the new Fascist party put up its first list of nineteen candidates; it included Mussolini, Marinetti… and the conductor Arturo Toscanini. All nineteen were defeated. in 1920 Marinetti , discovering that Mussolini was being funded by the industrialists and bankers, indignantly quit the party. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…Steve Shapiro:Any acknowledgment of Futurism’s 100th anniversary this year makes for awkward celebration, to say the least; it is like reading T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf knowing of their anti-Semitism that lay just below the surface, or watching •The Birth of a Nation• fully aware of its noxious sensibility. The proximity of the Futurist agenda to what evolved into Italian Fascism under Mussolini is a kind of smog that never burns off however long the day stretches. Futurism was but one of one after another of bourgeois-thumbing art movements that came regularly to Europe’s (and eventually America’s) front door, like costumed trick-or-treaters who are too old to play but do so, anyway, any way they wish. Each -ism was anti-something: Cubism was anti-perspective; Dadaism was anti-content; Surrealism was anti-context. Art was remaking itself alongside society and technology: Marx and Engels wrote about “the spectre haunting Europe” the same year (1888) as Tesla’s electric motor and Kodak’s box camera were invented. This interplay of radicalism reached its early zenith in Futurism, which more than the other movements that restricted their goals mostly to art advanced the ideal of a new man. Read More:http://arttattler.com/commentaryfuturismanniversary.html