An Italian poet named Emilio Filippo Tommaso (1876-1944) established Futurism in 1908. He envisioned a new society that would make a complete rupture with the present and the past even as the world underwent rapid changes in the new century. Tomasso imagined a perfect world, a utopia that included new art and literary forms. In essence, the new society would replace past social norms and offer something better for art and poetry. In his Futurist Manifesto in 1909, Tommaso elaborated more on the Futurist vision, including the Four Post-Modernizations.
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) created and embodied the Futurism painting form with his paintings “The City Rises” (1910) and “States of Mind” (1911-1912). The latter features red, blue, and white as the dominant colors and includes humans in motion and futuristic buildings under construction at the top of the canvas. The elements of Futurism are embedded in the complex composition. Many colors break up and come together to portray a man shown from behind. He looks like can pull the observer into the future. Boccioni also sculpted a bronze cast in 1913 called “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,” which now resides in the Museum of Modern Art. This human figure also embodies motion, a central concept of Futurism.
The Dada artist and writer, Marcel Duchamp, was the brilliant organizer of the Dadaists and the author of the Dada Manifesto. He had a brilliant older brother whose sculptures exhibit the impact of Futurism. Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918) created the magnificent bronze sculpture which was both mechanical and unique. He chose the simple name “The Horse” (1914), understating the complexity of this three-dimensional form as a complex representation of how humanity is propelling itself into an uncertain future.
It is hard to believe sometimes that the Dadaists and the Futurists, including the Duchamp brothers were creating such revolutionary work only a couple years after Braque and Picasso introduced Cubism to the Paris art world in the midst of the First World War. Joseph Stella also reverberated the Futurist sense of rhythm and motion in his painting, “Battle of Lights, Coney Island” painting (1914). Some historians even argue that Futurism even impacted Picasso’s Synthetic Cubism.
Architecture gave a vision to the idea of a futuristic city. Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright built models of their visions for a futuristic metropolis. However, these elaborate plans were never built. Wright’s plan is reminiscent of the city of the future one sees when riding the Mass Transit Authority through Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain.