Futurism: Italy celebrates the 100th Anniversary of “Futurismo” with art, street performances, food and fashion

February 22, 2009 marked the day when Filippo Tomasso Marinetti first published his Futurist Manifesto 100 years ago. The 100th anniversary of the futurism movement, in Italy, was marked by an impressive, all night, festival that featured an intense array of passionate artist that only futurism could condone.

Futurism is the art of movement, speed, technology, and other manifestations of the modern generation. It seems as though the artist got together and wanted to show what a James Bond movie would look like without any cinematic tools. The artists involved wanted to show society that the art they are appreciating is not following the times. They want society to move from black and white movies to CGI thrillers that captivate every visual emotion within a person’s body.

Umberto Boccioni. Composizione spiralica , 1913. Composizione spiralica, Civiche raccolte d’arte, Museo del Novecento, Milan
Umberto Boccioni. Composizione spiralica , 1913. Composizione spiralica, Civiche raccolte d’arte, Museo del Novecento, Milan

To begin with, the futurism movement was publicly started by Flippo Tommaso Marinetti who published a manifesto, entitled “Futurist Manifesto”, in a French newspaper called Le Fargo. The manifesto is an emotional depiction of the ideology of Futurism. Marinetti talks of the ignorance of museums, academics, professors, and other idealists in the sense that they are graveyards of movement; that they ponder the past when the present is happening all around them. They wanted to show that when a Ferrari is racing down a street the beauty is the speed of the car not just the car itself.

This is how Futurism was born. The imagery within the manifesto is something out of Punk or a biker gang mentality. They go against society and try to portray a life of true emotion. And the beauty of the whole futuristic movement is the creative destruction that Marinetti speaks of. He states:

“The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts— we want it to happen!”

What an immense idea! What a refreshing thought that he is not doing this for the glory of himself, but he is trying to improve the Italian nation. He is trying to free the Italian people from what he views is a cyclical and damaging practice of worshipping ancient art. Even if his views are a little intense, one must agree that he is a man of deep passion and pride for his country.

Marinetti started a movement of massive proportions. Soon artist of all genres started to rally around the poets cause. More manifestos were published, including: The Manifesto of Futurist Painters, by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini; Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, by Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini; Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture, by Umberto Boccioni, the list goes on. There is one for cinema, music, even cooking.

Within each manifesto is a mission statement by the particular author. While each may have a different platform to write about, each writes with a love for their craft and an enthusiasm matched only by religious radicals. All write that the youth should break away from the constraints of artistic education and join the cause of futurism, and that we must celebrate those that show intensity and originality in their art. When someone is moving the painting should show the rapid movement of the legs, not a deathly still image of the walker and the walked. Or when cooking, people should try and wow their audience as well as please them. And what could be more surprising than a chicken cooked with ball bearings.

They stated that museums are burial grounds and the worst places artists can visit. They reprimand individuals who copy and praise those who break the norm. They are artists in the purest fashion; they are artists of zeal and emotion. Their excitement drips with something that seems to have been lost in modern society; a desire to try and take down the chains of outdated bureaucracy. These artists seem to have a selfish desire that would be envied if it were not so, at times, violent.

So with this heritage in mind, the 100-year festival began in Italy. All of the February 20th festivities started at around 10 o’clock. The passion around this artistic event was something that cannot be matched by any other. There was no shushing of crowds or reprimanding of camera use, just emotion and intensity. There were multiple artistic demonstrations set up around Via del Corso; a magnificent, long street, that is a usual house to strolling Italians whom are window shopping at the many shops which litter the street.

The festival itself was a mirage of colors and chaotic noises. It was exciting, terrifying, and mystifying all in one. The artists put on a show that would have made the founding fathers proud. And most importantly, they did their damnest to try and astonish the audience. There were of course historical exhibits, and documents of the original movement, but that sort of historical nonsense would not have interested any attending futurist that was still true to the faith. Instead the thing that accurately portrayed futurism, were the demonstrations. In Rome, one man painted a painting on the side of a building, guided by ropes and music. In Milan, beautifully chaotic dancers moved rhythmically in the sky while attached to wires. It was a sight to see, and like no art demonstration most had seen.