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Filippo Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto Critical Essay

Every time art movements replace each other, a new, “fresh” tendency rebuts and refutes the old one with enthusiasm and categoricity. However, there is hardly any movement in the history of art that demonstrated as strong aspiration for destroying the “old” and bring the “new” as Futurism.

Having emerged in the early 20th century, Futurism absorbed the tense and contradictive spirit hovering in the air of progressive Western European capitals. One of the first artistic personalities who managed to grasp this spirit was Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti, an Italian poet who is today considered one of the “fathers” of Futurism.

In his Futurist Manifesto published in 1909 in Paris (Marinetti 1909), Marinetti formulated the essence and the purpose of the Futurist movement and thus outlined the “ethical code” of a New Artist, a Futurist. Playing on the contrast of new and old, courage and cowardice, a human and nature, freedom and captivity, Marinetti not only expressed the spirit of his epoch, but also gave direction to it.

The contrast of “old” and “new” is the core of the Futurist movement. The term “Futurism” itself carries a certain paradox: on the one hand, its name includes the allusion to the future; on the other hand, this term was used in the beginning of the 20th century to denote not the art of the “future”, but the art of “today”.

Probably, this paradox was the issue that pleased Futurist poets and artists of that time who had opportunity to claim that they had overthrown the past and overstepped the present. We may notice this when familiarizing ourselves with numerous works of visual art, cinema, literature, music and architecture of that period.

Futurists do not mourn over the glory of antiquity or Renaissance; they look at the world around them with excitement: cars, airplanes, huge buildings constructed of concrete and glass become the objects of panegyric and poetical description. Thus, together with the contrast “old/new”, Futurists create the contrast of “human” and “nature” where a human is in the superior position. Instead of admiring the scenery with a bird flying in the sky, a human of the new epoch soars with his metal wings.

This message and this rhetoric take their origin in Futurist Manifesto. “Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible: Time and Space died yesterday”, says Marinetti (1909), and a reader may even imagine the passion and enthusiasm put by the author in his words.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Marinetti outlines the new notion of beauty that has come to replace its old “version”, “…the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed” (ibid.); he says, it is time to free Italy from the heritage of the past that burdens it, from those “professors, archaeologists, ciceroni and antiquarians” (ibid.).

Marinetti is against stagnation, stability and tradition, but for a breakthrough, experiment and innovation. Thus, a modern person cannot enjoy the beauty “preserved” in museums; the beauty of a “roaring car” is more comprehensive and dear to a human of the beginning of the 20th century.

This is what we can see in the Futurists’ paintings: experiments with textures, techniques and shapes help to express the spirit of the time and thus help the “new” overthrow the “old” and “ascend the throne”. Painters try to depict speed and energy, light and sound; composition seems not harmonious and well-balanced, but unsteady, disturbing.

Particularly, we may allude to the paintings by Umberto Boccioni, Marinetti’s compatriot and “confederate” in the artistic movement. Boccioni’s The Street Enters the House (1911) is the bright illustration for the statements of Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto: the author depicts speed, energy and noise my means of colors, composition and numerous details, blurring and overlapping.

Futurist poets tend to experiment with a word, a sound, a sentence. Their desire is to break the rules that exist in the traditional, “ordinary” language. Below, the fragment of Marinetti’s poem Aeropoem for Agello: 700 Km an Hour (1939) illustrates these tendencies (in Bohn 2005, 14):

Suddenly far from the earthly feminine tic-toc Agello Castoldi and I gulp down the beautiful misty lake at 200-300 metres triumphantly joining those illustrious fliers who have flown 700 kilometres an hour Uuuaaaa Uuuuaaaaa Uuaaaaaaaa

However, in Futurist Manifest, the notion of the new beauty is inseparable from the notion of struggle, “Except in struggle, there is no more beauty” (ibid.).

We will write a custom Essay on Filippo Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Marinetti operates one more contrast: “freedom” versus “slavery”; freedom should be brought to the society, which implies to overcome “every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice” (ibid.), and to art where the museums, libraries and other “vestiges of the past” should be destroyed (ibid.). To free the society from the state of sleep and constraint, Futurists need to come with courage and violence.

“Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice”, say Marinetti (ibid.). This spirit was impregnated Futurist works of literature and art. The above mentioned painting by Boccioni “radiates” the energy of riot, anxiety, violence, penetration and destruction. In Luigi Russolo’s paintings, we may also see violence and aggression (for example, Impressions of Bombardment (Shrapnels and Grenades), 1926).

Not accidentally, Futurism is to some extent considered one of the forerunners of Fascism. Promotion of changes brought by means of destruction and violence is neighboring with nationalism. Yet in Futurist Manifesto, we see the nationalistic tint in the author’s narration, “It is from Italy that we launch through the world this violently upsetting incendiary manifesto of ours… For too long has Italy been a dealer in second-hand clothes” (Marinetti, 1909).

Thus, besides seeing Futurism as a solid, integrated movement in art, we also may notice its connection with the tendencies that existed in politics and society of that time. The ideas declared in Futurist Manifesto found their development during the next decades and had crucial impact on the history of the mankind. We see one more illustration of how art and the real life are always connected.

References Boccioni, Umberto. The Street Enters the House. 1911. Sprengel-Museum, Hannover.

Bohn, Willard. 2005. Italian Futurist Poetry: Edited and Translated by Willard Bohn. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Marinetti, Filippo T. 1909. Futurist Manifesto. Le Figaro 20 February 1909. CSCS.Umich.Edu. Web.

Russolo, Luigi. Impressions of Bombardment (Shrapnels and Grenades). 1926. Collection of the Comune di Portogruaro.

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Renato Poggioli: The Concept of a Movement: The Theory of the Avant-Garde Definition Essay

Nursing Assignment Help The subtleties of language are not lost on Renato Poggioli. In his mind, “language is our greatest historical revealer” [p. 17].

The Concept of a Movement is the chapter that Poggioli devotes to defining avant garde art. Herein, the author details a crucial distinction between the avant garde and other historical periods of artistic practice, not only in terms of old versus new, but also how the artists named their practice.

Artists that align themselves to a school, in Poggioli’s mind, comprise an altogether different breed than those that identify with a movement. Most significantly, how the artists thought about their practice, for Poggioli, reveals their category.

Art that derives from a school owes its origin to some form of official endorsement or affirmation, which it requires as a necessary element of its creation. School art must be sanctioned, and depends more or less on historical as well as mainstream acceptance. For Poggioli, “the school notion presupposes a master and a method, the criterion of tradition, and the principle of authority” [p. 20].

Conversely, “the followers of a movement always work in terms of an end immanent in the movement itself” [p. 20]. Said end need not be sanctioned, accepted, affirmed, valued, or even understood, by those outside the movement.

Where the school presupposes disciples consecrated to a transcendent end, Poggioli believes, the movement holds multiple paths for multiple participants who may or may not arrive in the same location [p. 20].

Art based in the school form also has a qualitatively different energy than that which originates as part of a movement. “The school [art] is preeminently static and classical, while the movement is essentially dynamic and romantic” [p.20].

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More Innovation remains muted in the school, since it carries the weight of historical precedence, and its proponents produce work in a somewhat limited field, hamstrung by the need for permission. Movements, on the other hand, remain free of precedent, thus, its participants remain free to germinate and generate based on the present moment and their own experience.

Poggioli also points to the conceptual difference between the two camps, with an emphasis on diverging views in the artists’ understanding of culture.

The school is inconceivable outside the humanistic ideal, the idea of culture as a thesaurus. The movement, instead, conceives of culture not as increment but as creation – or, at least, as a center of activity and energy [p. 20].

This distinction in thought bears scrutiny. Particularly, Poggioli’s use of the term “thesaurus” to describe culture produces a lightning rod [p. 20]. Essentially, artists belonging to a school will always be creating synonyms of the work of their forbearers, in Poggioli’s mind; thus, the work looks backward, and endlessly repeats, reinvents, and rehashes. Artists in the school therefore do not experience time in the present moment, but continually live and create in the past.

Artists who adhere to a movement, on the other hand, not only live in the present moment, but understand culture as a social agreement, one that is constantly in flux. Culture endlessly transforms according to individual epoch and contemporary events.

Thus, these artists create work that reflects their own selves in their own times, times that always change. Therefore the artists of a movement, and their artistic products, more closely resemble the actual experience of life and art: dynamic, fluid, and live.

Poggioli moves on to discuss the difference in purpose between reviews of work that comes from the school and those that emanate from the movement.

We will write a custom Essay on Renato Poggioli: The Concept of a Movement: The Theory of the Avant-Garde specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More The school does not aim to discuss; it intends only to teach [p. 24]. [T]he school prefers to create new variants of traditional poetics and rhetoric, normative or didactic simply by nature [p. 25].

Reviews of avant garde work, conversely, engage in the vital task of

affirm[ing] in words the uniqueness, particularity, or exceptionality of its own theoretical and practical achievements. [Avant garde reviews and reviewers] more faithfully bear witness to divergence and exception: they operate in closer proximity to the sources of the work, closer to the creative process and the experimental phases [p. 25].

Ostensibly, Poggioli challenges avant garde reviews and reviewers to disseminate the conceptual framework of the movement, and become artists themselves in the process.

For Poggioli, the avant garde movement breaks down into four discrete aspects or moments: activism, antagonism, nihilism, and agonism [p. 25-26].

Activism refers to the movement’s propensity to take shape and agitate for no other end than its own self, out of the sheer joy of dynamism, a taste for action, a sportive enthusiasm, and the emotional fascination of adventure [p. 26].

Antagonism names the movement’s tendency to rail against something, be it the school, tradition, or authority [p. 26]. Nihilism labels the urge of the movement to indulge in wholesale destruction, and advocate a cultural fire sale of sorts.

Agonism, finally, describes the element of the movement that produces artistic martyrs, participants who “accept self-ruin as an obscure or unknown sacrifice to the success of future movements” [p. 26]. Poggioli delineates further within the four aspects to attach activism and antagonism to rational pursuits, and nihilism and agonism to the irrational.

Not sure if you can write a paper on Renato Poggioli: The Concept of a Movement: The Theory of the Avant-Garde by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More The avant garde, as defined by Poggioli, exists as a social force, as well as an artistic one. It differs from the art formed by a school in that it seeks to live in the present moment, and express itself to the public from a shared psychological, physical, and emotional space, indicative of a particular time, culture, and zeitgeist.

The avant garde movement hunts large scale engagement and involvement, both from its members as well as the public, and creates its own end. The school, on the other hand, seeks to teach, and wishes only to reveal its teachings to a select group of converts who will in turn learn, and eventually continue the tradition and teach. Art from a school therefore can remain isolated from the public, and may or may not choose to engage with it.

Reference List Poggioli, Renato. 1968. The Concept of a Movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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