The Futurist Goal

With cries of "Burn the museums!" "Drain the canals of Venice!" and "Let's kill the moonlight!" the Futurist movement burst upon the consciousness of an astonished public in the years 1909-1910. For the first time artists breached the wall erected between conventional taste and new ideas in art by carrying their battle directly to the public with the noise and tactics of a political campaign. Taking their cue from the anarchists with whom as youths they were in sympathy, the self-styled Futurists published shocking manifestoes negating all past values, even art itself. Fighting their way towards a new liberty against apathy, nostalgia, and sentimentality, they became for a very wide public the symbol of all that was new, terrifying, and seemingly ridiculous in contemporary art. Newspapers throughout the world -- in Tokyo, Chicago, London, Moscow -- published snatches of their startling credo and accounts of their antics, with the result that -- even before there was something distinguishable as Futurist painting -- the term Futurism became a commonplace.

That so violently launched a movement should come out of Italy is not altogether surprising, for in no other country did the youth feel so completely subjugated to the past, deprived of a world of its own. The complacent Italian public was content with guarding a tradition and obstinately refused to notice new events in art and literature, at home or elsewhere. 1

As for the term Futurism, there is no mystery about its origin, nor was it a word thrust by chance upon the artists as were "Impressionism," "Fauvism," and "Cubism." It was coined in the autumn of 1908 by the bilingual Italian poet, editor, and promoter of art, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, to give ideological coherence to the advanced tendencies in poetry he was furthering in the controversial periodical, Poesia. He thought at first of calling it "Electricism," then "Dynamism," but in "Futurism" he recognized at once the word that would stir the minds of the hopeful young. The chosen term was announced to the world in an impassioned manifesto published on the front page of the respected Paris newspaper, Le Figaro, February 20, 1909. At the same time, hundreds of copies of the manifesto in Italian were mailed throughout Italy to people of importance.

Organized by Marinetti who was already noted for his declamation of

-9-

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Futurism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Lenders to the Exhibition 6
  • Foreword 7
  • The Futurist Goal 9
  • The Futurist Achievement 17
  • Notes to the Text 119
  • Chronology 121
  • Appendix A - Four Futurist Manifestoes 124
  • Appendix B - Boccioni Letters to Vico Baer 133
  • Selected 'Bibliography of Futurism: 1905-1961 135
  • Biographies and Catalogue of the Exhibition 141
  • Index 149
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