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Key Dates: 1909-1944

An Italian avant-garde art movement that took speed, technology and modernity as its inspiration, Futurism portrayed the dynamic character of 20th century life, glorified war and the machine age, and favoured the growth of Fascism.

The movement was at its strongest from 1909, when Filippo Marinetti’s first manifesto of Futurism appeared, until the end of World War One. Futurism was unique in that it was a self-invented art movement.

The idea of Futurism came first, followed by a fanfare of publicity; it was only afterwards that artists could find a means to express it. Marinetti’s manifesto, printed on the front page of Le Figaro, was bombastic and inflammatory in tone – “set fire to the library shelves… flood the museums” – suggesting that he was more interested in shocking the public than exploring Futurism’s themes.

Painters in the movement did have a serious intent beyond Marinetti’s bombast, however. Their aim was to portray sensations as a “synthesis of what one remembers and of what one sees”, and to capture what they called the ‘force lines’ of objects.

The futurists’ representation of forms in motion influenced many painters, including Marcel Duchamp and Robert Delaunay, and such movements as Cubism and Russian Constructivism.

Representative Artists:
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
Giacomo Balla
Umberto Boccioni
Carlo Carrà
Gino Severini