History of Futuristic Movement

Sara Haney

The futuristic movement was an artistic and social movement that started in the early 20th century and originated in Italy.  The founder of the movement was an Italian writer, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.  The movement started when he published “Futurists Manifesto” in 1909 on the front page of the French Newspaper Le Fiagro.  In the article  Marinetti showed a strong dislike of the past and despised anything that wasn’t completely new.  He embraced everything modern and announced the creation of new tradition.  Four particular people were highly attracted to this article, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, who became known as the founding members of the futuristic movement.  Boccioni represented technology, movement and speed in his paintings and sculptures. The futuristic movement inspired him to paint ‘The City Rises.’  Carlo Carra was a futurist painter who was known for his 1911 futuristic work, ‘The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli.’  Balla’s paintings were based on the concept of capturing figures and objects in motion.  Severini was interested in the depiction of human bodies in motion, his painting ‘Blue Dancer’ showed his interest in this concept.

Futurists were interested in concepts such as speed, technology, youth and violence, change, automobiles and the industrial cities. Futurism grew quickly and spread all over europe, most significantly to Russia.  The Futurists explored every medium of art, including painting, sculpture, poetry, theatre, music, architecture and even gastronomy.  Publishing manifestos was part of the futurism movement.  They were typically about painting, architecture and clothing.

Printed word was very important to the futurist movement.  The movement started with poetry and literature that were published in newspapers and books.  Marinetti founded the international magazine Poesia in 1905.  He used this magazine to launch his ideas about releasing poetry and literature from the traditional punctuation and syntax.  His manifesto Destruction of Syntax – Imagination without Strings – Words-in-Freedom spread quickly around europe and ensured a strong influence on typography internationally.

“I call for a typographic revolution directed against the idiotic and nauseating concepts of the outdated and conventional book, with its handmade paper and seventeenth century ornamentation of garlands and goddesses, huge initials and mythological vegetation, its missal ribbons and epigraphs and roman numerals.  The book must be the Futurist expression of our futurist ideas..even more: My revolution is directed against what is known as the typographic harmony of the page, which is contrary to the flux and movement of style.” [1]

Marinetti is highly known for his masterpiece work, Zang Tumb, Tumb.  Zang Tumb, Tumb first appeared as excerpts in journals between 1912 and 1914, and then finally as an artists book.  The book is about the battle of Adrianopolis in 1912.  The poetic descriptions of explosions of grenades and shots of weapons are represented with the use of “words-in-freedom,” having different typefaces and different sizes.  The text uses onomatopoeia to describe these variety of sounds.



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