Appendix B: Boccioni Letters to Vico Baer

Translated by Margaret Scolari Barr

Savoy Hotel, London March 10, 1912

I have not written you before because, in Paris, I kept waiting for a telegram that would announce your arrival . . . now the exhibition is closed and I am already in London. In an hour the opening will take place for the press, tomorrow for the public. Journalists already began to come in yesterday, and I foresee that in London too the exhibition will arouse enormous interest.

Do you know that we came here with a magnificent contract?

After London we are practically signed with an important German house in Berlin that is bombarding us with favorable suggestions. Good proposals reach us also from The Hague, Brussels, Dublin, Liege, and Amsterdam.

The Paris show has acquainted all Europe with a new movement that is formidably enthusiastic and robustly youthful. My preface to the catalogue awakened so much interest and acclaim that 17,000 copies were printed; even now with the show closed they are still selling. The English catalogue is good too. The dealer saw fit to add explanations of every single painting -- I'm sure they are curious -- but they'll be useful for these bestie di inglesi -- these English blockheads as Benvenuto Cellini once said. Let's face it, the public is imbecile in every country and just as it does not understand in Italy, it does not understand here [in England] and it does not understand in France. In France, however, there is a greater interest in contemporary intellectual matters, art circles are more numerous and the ambition to be an innovator, the leader of a movement with no eye on immediate success is better understood. But in Italy I am considered a talent that is going downhill, just that and no more . . .

I can't wait to settle down again to work in peace . . . but it was necessary for me to show all I had till now accomplished in the miserable gloom of Milan, so that I could have the reassurance of seeing what point I had reached in my own revolution -- and indeed all the people here who really know Italy and the infantile, ignoble, and vulgar condition of its esthetic ideals, are amazed that, struggling out of the Italian morass we should in one leap have set Italian art side by side with the art of France. The rest does not exist, as you know. In the past two years my production has aroused nothing but laughter, disdain and pity . . .

I had hoped so much that you would come to Paris . . . You would have been amused to hear how people speak of me and what they expect of me! . . . It's somewhat frightening.

Never have I been so certain of the path I should follow as I am now! And what's more -- I shall succeed!

Dearest Vico, these days I live on certainty, always heady food . . . At times I glance back on my past and with strange lucidity I feel the presence of those that were kind to me. While I remember others with hatred, I feel equivalent tenderness for the friends who sustained me in hard times.

In this spirit I shake hands and greet you.

Affectionate greetings to Mrs. Baer and Rupert

Paris, 15th March 1912

Dearest Vico,

Your letter is seasoned with the patronizing irony that seems the accepted way to address artists. I, however, am too certain of your friendship not to have smiled and yearned to be in Milan to talk psychology and philosophy with you just as you say! . . .

However, I confess that at the moment I am a bit worried because I cannot decide whether to settle down in Paris or come back to Italy. I am afraid that Milan would prove unbearable after the period, in fact the parenthesis, I have lived through in Paris --

I think I might be more advanced (though I may be wrong) if all the inner workings of my evolution had taken place in a more favorable climate such as that of Paris. I feel that many times I have lacked daring because of the spiritual isolation in which I lived. It was not only the solitude but the continuous corrosion of the indestructible core, now evolving according to its destiny, which contained the full impact of my discoveries in nature.

Paris and London were my proving grounds and now what I accomplished in Milan has taken on immense value in my eyes-not because of my works, I don't care about them- but because of the struggle for liberation and destruction that I undertook.

Now I wonder: what would I (perhaps) have done among people who constantly encouraged me? What would I have done if I had not always been faced with the fear of being thought a practical joker, a man on the wrong track, a brain that was going up in smoke?

-133-

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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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