Architecture Misfits #5: The Futurists
The futurists were misfits in more ways than one. They had a manifesto – a written statement of what they believed in. The modern equivalent would, I suppose, be the “vision statement” that we see in business plans – only with more poetry to it. Here’s their point #7, for example.
We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace (or NIKE, to many).
Founded in 1909 by the poet F. T. Marinetti, Futurism remains Italy’s most significant contribution to twentieth century European culture. Marinetti wanted to break with the oppressive weight of Italy’s cultural heritage and develop an aesthetic based on modern life and technology, particularly speed and the machine.
This quote was taken from the website of the Estorick Museum. Have a look when you’re in London. In the early 20th century, everybody had a theory about something, but it wasn’t just about painting.
They also did sculpture.
Fashion. (for more details, see here.)
(!!?? Let’s have a quick look at “Machine of 3000” – apparently the two “locomotives” are in love with the station master. Let’s hope it works out.)
Gardening. (This is not faceitious. Despite being organic, bonsai or a Japanese garden, is no less unnatural.)
Cooking. Yes! (Go here for more details.)
Dining as theatrical event.
Since Futurists were against history and tradition, Marinetti was against pasta, claiming it made Italians lazy and so on. The photograph below found its way into circulation around the same time. Marinetti claimed it was faked.
Graphic design and advertising. Check here for more images of the work of Fortunato Depero.
Architecture. (thanks dieselpunk!)
One of the Futurists’ provocative characteristics was their fascination with the noise and dynamism of war – which is why not many of them lived to be old. Normally, Antonio Sant’ Elia is counted as a Futurist because of his “forward looking” designs but it’s more likely he gets mentioned with them to forge a link with art because, otherwise, there would be a big space in the history books – not least of all Sigfreid Gideon’s long book “Space, Time & Architecture where he had this to say.
The middle bit makes sense. Sant’ Elia did have an idea when people were looking for one. All his manifesto called for, however, was the sensible use of modern materials to adapt to mobility and change – which seems a sensible thing to do.
There was much about The Futurists that was a bit naïve and perhaps more than a bit disingenuous at times. The good thing about them, and the reason why they are the subject of this blog is that
THEY SHOWED PEOPLE IT WAS OKAY TO REJECT PAST IDEAS OF BEAUTY AND TO CREATE NEW TYPES MORE RELEVANT TO THE MODERN WORLD.
To The Futurists – have one on us, Misfits salutes you!