February 21–September 1, 2014
Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe is the first comprehensive overview of Italian Futurism to be presented in the United States. This multidisciplinary exhibition examines the historical sweep of Futurism, one of Europe’s most important twentieth-century avant-garde movements.
Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe examines the historical sweep of Futurism, one of Europe’s most important twentieth-century avant-garde movements, from its inception with F. T. Marinetti’s Futurist manifesto in 1909 through the movement’s demise at the end of World War II. It encompasses not only painting and sculpture, but architecture, design, ceramics, fashion, film, photography, advertising, free-form poetry, music, theater, and performance.
Rejecting stasis and tradition, the first generation of Futurists created works characterized by dynamic movement and fractured forms, aspiring to break with existing notions of space and time to place the viewer at the center of the artwork. Extending into all mediums, Futurism proposed to fashion a way of life and not solely an artistic idiom. Following World War I, Futurism assumed different formal qualities, including that of machine aesthetics or arte meccanica. In the 1930s, the popularity and nationalist importance of aviation in Italy led to the swirling abstracted aerial imagery of Futurism’s final incarnation, aeropittura.
Investigations of “heroic” Futurism, which lasted through ca. 1916, when Umberto Boccioni— one of the central artists and theorists of the founding group—died, have predominated. However, comparatively few exhibitions have been realized on the subsequent life of the movement. The taint from Futurism’s sometime association with Fascism has been a cause for this, but these associations, which complicate the narrative of this avant-garde, make it all the more necessary to delve into and clarify the movement’s full history.
This exhibition is organized by Vivien Greene, Senior Curator, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Art at the Guggenheim Museum. In addition, an eminent international advisory committee provided expertise and guidance.