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Italy, 1908

In a stylistic idiom that integrated some of the techniques of Cubism and Divisionism, the Futurists glorified the energy and speed of modern life together with the dynamism and violence of the new technological society. In their manifestos, art, poetry, and theatrical events, they celebrated automobiles, airplanes, machine guns, and other phenomena that they associated with modernity; they denounced moralism and feminism, as well as museums and libraries, which they considered static institutions of an obsolete culture. The Futurists sought to represent the experience of the modern metropolis—namely, the overstimulation of the individual’s sensorium—by portraying multiple phases of motion simultaneously and by showing the interpenetration of objects and their environment through the superimposition of different chromatic planes. Artists and poets affiliated with Futurism include Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (the movement’s founder), Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini. Balla led a second generation of Italian Futurists, including Fortunato Depero, Gerardo Dottori, and Enrico Prampolini, in the 1920s and 1930s. 

Almost concomitantly with Italian Futurism, a Russian version of Futurism developed under the leadership of Kazimir Malevich, who described most of his work from 1912 to 1915 as “Cubo-Futurist.” This Cubist fragmentation of space allied to the Futurist simultaneity of shifting forms was also taken up briefly by Liubov Popova and other Russian artists. Futurism, however, was more prevalent among Russia’s poets than its painters.

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