The Futurists were not only the first artists to take cognizance of the dynamism of a technological society, but they also produced works of art of extraordinary emotional impact. They translated the kinetic rhythms and the confused, intense sensations of modern life into potent visual form. The Futurists' approach to art, their manifestoes and demonstrations, set a pattern for many art movements which followed. The relationship between Cubism and Futurism, the impact of Futurism on Expressionism, and the sympathy between certain Futurist procedures and current endeavors are largely responsible for the growing interest in this movement, and the recent efforts to reassess its contribution as an artistic movement quite aside from its association with political and social events.
Launched in 1909 with fanfare byMarinetti, poet and lively editor of the controversial Poesia, Futurism -- at first a literary movement -- picked up momentum among the painters, who gradually evolved an art that matched the excitement of Marinetti's own poetic exuberance. By 1911 a type of painting clearly identifiable with the Futurist credo had taken shape. This book and the exhibition accompanying it commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the epoch-making manifestation, La Mostra d'Arte Libera, in Milan in the spring of 1911, at which the positive direction taken by the Futurist painters was first to be seen.
From its inception Futurism was widely discussed in America as well as in Europe. Periodicals, Sunday supplements and little magazines were filled with reports and arguments about this new Italian movement. While the Futurists decided, as a group, not to participate in the Armory Show of 1913, they arranged a comprehensive exhibition of their work in 1915 at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition. After the first World War many countries claimed movements under the Futurist banner; in fact, the terms "Futurism" and "Futuristic" became almost standard in popular references to avant-garde art. Yet the vital nucleus of the movement had spent itself, and the "First Futurism," as it is called in Italy to separate it from the politically associated "Second Futurism" of the 1920s and '3os, can be said actually to close with the first War. It is with this creative and innovating phase of the movement that this exhibition and book are concerned . . .