Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Dynamism of a Human Body, 1913, Ink and tempera on paper, 292 x 230 mm, Civico Gabinetto dei Disegni, Castello Sforzesco, Milan.

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Development of a Bottle in Space, 1912, Bronze cast, 38 x 59.5 x 32 cm, Private collection.

Umberto Boccioni and the Manifesto of Futurism 100 Years Ago

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Study for cover of Balilla Pratella's Musica Futurista, 1912, Ink on paper, 125 x 100 mm, Private collection.

Umberto Boccioni (1982-1916), Three Women, 1910, Oil on canvas, Private collection.


Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art
39a Canonbury Square
+ 44 (0)20 7704 9522
Unique Forms: The Drawing
and Sculpture of Umberto Boccioni

January 14-April 19, 2009

As part of its celebrations to mark the centenary of the Futurist movement, founded by F. T. Marinetti in 1909, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is proud to be hosting the first exhibition in Britain to focus solely on the work of Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) for many years. Comprising some 20 dynamic works, Unique Forms: The Drawing and Sculpture of Umberto Boccioni incorporates work from the Estorick’s permanent collection as well as loans from museums in Italy, France and the United Kingdom.  Running concurrently and complementing this exhibition will be a show focusing on the contemporary Italian artist Luca Buvoli, whose work directly engages with Futurist ideas and themes. Luca Buvoli’s multi-media work explores the themes at the very heart of Futurism — dynamism, conflict and the changing society — as well as engaging directly with the contradictions of the movement itself.  Velocity Zero is a unique installation comprising film and animation, works on paper, mural painting and sculpture.

A signatory of the 1910 "Manifesto of the Futurist Painters," Boccioni was perhaps the most significant of the five artists associated with the first wave of Futurist art. Born in the south of Italy, Boccioni later settled in Rome where he experimented with the languages of Divisionism, Symbolism and Expressionism prior to his move to Milan and association with Marinetti’s movement.  Equally articulate with verbal and visual imagery, Boccioni went on to become the foremost theorist of Futurist aesthetics, which he expounded with tremendous energy and rigour in his tract Futurist Painting and Sculpture published in 1914, two years prior to his untimely death during a military exercise.
Luca Buvoli (b. 1963) is an Italian-born contemporary artist who now lives in New York City.  In recent years, he has explored the tenets of Futurism, the bombastic Italian movement that began with the publication of Marinetti’s Manifesto in the popular Parisian newspaper Le Figaro on 20 February 1909, in the light of subsequent historical events.  The relationship of Futurism with Italian Fascism, and the clash of its celebration of war with the horrors of the First World War, are of particular interest to Buvoli, who sees in them a relevance to today’s society — a gulf between theoretical ideal and reality that is still pervasive.
Italian Futurism was literary in origin and was launched by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti on 20 February 1909 when the Paris newspaper Le Figaro published his manifesto.  Marinetti wanted to break with the oppressive weight of Italy’s cultural tradition and to develop an aesthetic based on modern life and technology, particularly speed and the machine.  The movement grew to embrace many different art forms — architecture, the decorative arts, painting, performance and theatrical design, music, photography, sculpture and typography.  Marinetti’s impassioned polemic immediately attracted the support of the young Milanese painters Boccioni, Carlo Carrà and Luigi Russolo, who wanted to extend his ideas to the visual arts and, together with Gino Severini and Giacomo Balla, these artists led the dynamic first phase of Futurism.

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913, Bronze, cast 1972, 1175 x 876 x 368 mm, © Tate.

Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Self-Portrait, 1995, Oil on canvas, 51.4 x 66.6 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.


Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Dynamism of a Human Body (Dynamism of a Figure in Movement), 1913, Watercolour and tempera on paper, 296 x 245 mm, Civico Gabinetto dei Disegni, Castello Sforzesco, Milan.