A Futurist Masterpiece and the European Avant-Garde
Essays by Emily Braun, Flavio Fergonzi, Giovanna Ginex, Vivien Green, Laura Mattioli Rossi, Fausto Petrella, Gianluca Poldi and Anna Schultz.
Umberto Boccioni was perhaps the most versatile and impassioned of the Futurists--the literary, political and artistic movement that flourished in Italy during the first half of the twentieth century, proclaiming a revolutionary, spectacular style of life. His masterwork, “Materia,” a huge canvas painted during July and August of 1912, depicts the artist's mother seated on the balcony of her apartment at Via Adige, 23, in Milan. Her monumental, sculpted hands sit at the center of the painting, and behind and above her are the rooftops and factory buildings of the Piazza Trento and beyond. The Cubist energy of the composition is enhanced by an open window that reflects rays of light over her, illustrating simultaneous visual impressions of indoors and outdoors. Boccioni's Materia: A Futurist Masterpiece and the European Avant-Garde is organized around a series of themes including the artist's evolution from Divisionism to Futurism, the exchanges between Cubism and Futurism, and the relationship between Boccioni's painting and sculpture. Through an exploration of related paintings by Boccioni, as well as works by his counterparts within the greater European sphere, from Picasso to Duchamp, this exhibition and catalogue demonstrate the pivotal role Boccioni played within the history of Modernism, broadening the current perspective on the artist and, by extension, the Italian Futurism movement. This publication will include drawings, sculptures, period photographs and archival documentation, providing an unprecedented understanding of Boccioni's working process, and the interconnected relationships between the works he executed in diverse media, underlining, for example, his exploration of the fusion of interiors and exteriors, an approach integral to the Futurist conceptualization of spatial relationships and motion. A series of scholarly essays completes the volume.