and no place to go. Rinsed out by the wave of the future. …
If political parties and ideologies, including the most reactionary, must constantly look ahead, they habitually look back, too, to the figures from whom they derive inspiration and legitimacy. Modern schools of painting and sculpture likewise proclaim their debts to past masters., or at least acknowledge them. One remarkable exception was an aesthetic movement with political overtones that flourished for a time in Europe in the early years of the twentieth century. Called, inevitably, futurism, it sought 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.
The birth of the new creed was announced on February 20, 1909, in Paris, on the front page of Le Figaro. Under the heading “Manifesto of Futurism,” its principal themes were sounded and the tenor was nihilistic and psychotic:
We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness….
Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace….
…Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man….
…We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice….
Below the manifesto appeared the name of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Marinetti was not only the founder of futurism but alss Maecenas, chief promoter, and star performer: so the story of futurism is largely his.
Like those other bellicose superpatriots, Napoleon and Hitler, Marinetti spent his formative years outside the beloved “homeland.” Born in 1876 in Alexandria, the son of a fabulously successful speculator, he grew up passionately devoted to newly united Italy, ever ready to defend her honor, even with his fists against schoolmates. At sixteen, Marinetti went to Paris for his baccalaureate, then to Pavia and finally Genoa for a law degree. When his father died in 1907, leaving him his entire fortune, he was suddenly able not only to indulge a taste for fast cars but also to promote his visions of a strong, aggressive, Italian nation and a dynamic new literature inspired by modern industrial technology.
A handsome man with fierce, kaiser-like mustaches and piercing black eyes, a fluent talker and a veritable maniac for action, he quickly drew to himself a cluster of younger writers and artists. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…But instead of destroying the academies, Marinetti and his chums became active participants in Italian fascism. Not only was Marinetti a rich scumbag, he was a seriously sad skunk to boot. Despite the far-Right trajectory of the movement Marinetti instigated, the hack work it churned out is now the stuff of which museum exhibitions are made; tatters from a rotting corpse that are displayed at Tate Modern like so many ‘holy’ relics to be venerated by credulous fools. Today Marinetti’s Futurist manifestos are about as relevant as the British monarchy; they come across as long-winded and terminally outdated in a world dominated by the strap-line, advertising jingles, twitter and spam email. Futurist visual ‘art’ by the likes of Boccioni, Carrà and Balla, is even worse; it is an academic exercise in ocular boredom that totally lacks the dynamism which is supposed to be its raison d’être.
After viewing the spaces dedicated to Italian Futurism, it was a minor relief to hit a room given over to the work of Picasso and Braque. Their Cubist slop looked somewhat more advanced than the sickly romantic street scenes of the Futurists; nonetheless Picasso isn’t ripe he’s rotten! He’s followed by the three Duchamp brothers – Moe, Curly and Larry. Oops, Moe and company are The Three Stooges! What I meant to say was Jacques Villon, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp. Then you get Orphism, Russian Cubo-Futurism, nearly a whole room given over to publications (wow, is that dull!), Vorticism, and finally Futurism and war. Much of the material is familiar and all of it is completely superannuated. I found some of this stuff interesting when I was 12 years-old (35 years ago), but in the intervening period it has decomposed badly. Enough of that old Futurist rubbish, we want something new! How about post-aestheticism and a world-wide proletarian revolution with unlicensed pleasure as its only aim?
Wandering through this inert Futurist display, I remembered that Marcel Duchamp once remarked works of art die, and that museums and art history are their graveyards. The pieces by Duchamp and his brothers looked as dead as those of everyone else, and no more likely to get up and start moonwalking than Michael Jackson. Read More:http://stewarthomesociety.org/blog/archives/tag/filippo-tomasso-marinetti