Umberto Boccioni

Umberto Boccioni

Reggio Calabria
1882


Verona
1916

Biography

Umberto Boccioni was an Italian painter and sculptor. He was the greatest representative of Futurism and contributed as a theorist. In 1901 he moved to Rome, where he met Severini. He studied with G. Balla, who was a master of Divisionist Naturalism, together with M. Sironi and D. Cambellotti. After staying in Paris, Russia, Padua, and Venice, he settles in Milan towards the end of 1907. Because of his encounter with Previati, he emphasized the psychological interest in the image, gave a first formulation of his theory of the state of mind, and engaged in a direct study of the "modern industrial society" in Milan (1907-10). These works include: Portrait of the Mother (1907, Milan, Gall. D'Arte Mod.), Portrait of the Painter Adriana Bisi Gabbri (1907, Rome, Coll. Campigli), Self-Portrait (1908, Milan, Brera), and Officine a Porta Romana (1908, Rome, Coll. Banca Commerciale Italiana). During this time, he was very attentive to the Symbolist culture of the Secession, the Expressionism of E. Munch (Il mutto, 1910, coll. Priv.), and the Germans. His concepts of "dynamism" and "simultaneity" derive from a direct interpretation of Bergson's philosophy. The futuristic synthesis of the plastic and chromatic element emerged from these two elements. After a series of meetings with Carrà, Russolo, and Marienetti, Boccioni signed the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting in 1910. From this moment, the history of his artistic research coincides with Futurism. The first great work that can be seen at the beginning of the new period is The City that Rises (ca. 1910, New York, Mus. Of Mod. Art). This took place soon after he painted works where his futurist ideas of the dynamic interpenetration of the planes are realized. Furthermore, there is construction based on the lines of force that determine the spatial unity between object and environment. These ideas can be seen in works such as, Simultaneous Visions (1911, Hannover, Niedersachsische Landesgal), Laughter (New York, Mus. Of Mod. Art), and the triptych of states of mind: The Farewells, Those Who Go, Those Who Remain (Milan, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). A second version of the triptych, painted after the trip to Paris (and now in the Mus. Of Mod Art in New York), reveals the study of Cubism. In 1911, Boccioni also began experimenting with sculpture (Unique Forms in the Continuity of Space, 1913, Milan, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). In the following years: 1912, 1913, 1914, there would be a culmination of Futurism and it would appear to be characterized by a frenetic creative, critical, and diffusive activity of the movement in Europe. He wrote the Futurist sculpture Technical Manifesto (1912) and created various works such as, Elasticity (1912, Milan, Coll. R. Jucker), Dynamism of a Foot-Dancer (1913, New York, Coll. Signey Janis), Horse + Rider + Tenement (1914, Rome, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). In 1914 he published the collection of theoretical writings Painting, Futurist Sculpture. In 1915 he volunteered for the war. During this time, Boccioni detached himself from Futurist poetry and weakened his dynamic element. However, he still retained his interest in the plastic image, now mediated by Cézanne's studio. This new fruitful period, which was abruptly interrupted by the artist's death in 1916, is culminated in the Portrait of Maestro Busoni (1916, Rome, Gall. D'Arte Mod.). His numerous writings, including an unpublished Manifesto of Futurist Architecture, have been collected in recent years (1971-72).