Futurism Celebrated: Extreme Painting

Extreme Painting, Rome

The location: Piazza Colonna, Rome, 10 p.m.

A man dangles from ropes in front of the facade of Palazzo Wedekind, illuminated by spotlights. Above him glows the neon sign “IL TEMPO” adjacent to an oversized clock. Below, a large crowd forms in the piazza, heads tilted to observe the extreme artist. He faces white canvas measuring over 10 feet tall, which partially obscures the building facade. On a terrace beneath him, a group of musicians tune their instruments; he is swinging side to side as he adjusts in his harness. An unseen signal, and the action begins–– the musicians strike a dramatic chord and the first stroke of black paint appears on the white surface. The painter, Giuliano del Sorbo, is moving quickly, attempting to finish the work in 30 minutes. The jazzy notes track his gestures, as he adds strokes from top to bottom, then from left to right, instructing his crew to manipulate his position. The painting is abstract swirls and swooshes––until the final moments, when a human figure comes alive. It is none other than (of course) Futurist’s iconic sculpture by Boccioni, a man walking.

After a mid-air bow, the painter adds his final touch, a large red signature. The crowd starts to disperse, blurry forms fading into the dark.

Photos by Mauro Benedetti