Umberto Boccioni


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Italian futurist painter and sculptor.

When Boccioni settled in Milan in 1907, he was impressed and excited by its rapid industrialization. He also met the writer F. T. Marinetti (1876–1944), who believed that contemporary Italian culture was weighed down by a past that prevented progress and originality. Stimulated by Marinetti's glorification of modern technical civilization, Boccioni agreed that artists should express its dynamism, speed, vitality, and violence in their paintings. The resulting futurist manifestos appeared in 1910 and Boccioni became the most forceful member of the futurist group, devoting himself to putting the manifestos into practice. His works of 1910–11, such as The Rising City and Riot in the Gallery, painted in a seminaturalistic style and made up of dots and whirling strokes of vibrant colour, attempt to express not merely people moving but movement itself and the collective emotion of the crowd.

After 1911, when he was introduced to the cubist style, Boccioni's paintings became more rigorous in their formal construction. In 1912 he wrote the manifesto of futurist sculpture and in 1914 his book Pittura-scultura futurista. Only four pieces of his sculpture are known to have survived but Boccioni's innovations in this field are an important legacy to modern art. His rejection of exclusively traditional materials, his combination of different materials (e g glass, cement) in a single work, and the importance he gave to the space around an object are exemplified in his Development of a Bottle in Space (1912). Boccioni was killed in World War I, having volunteered in 1915.

Subjects: Art.

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