MARINETTI, Filippo Tommaso, 1876-1944; RUSSOLO, Luigi, 1885-1947; BOCCIONI, Umberto, 1882-1916, et al.
Futurism : an archive
A collection of key manifestos and other ephemeral publications from Futurism’s most vital period, 1910-1913.
The Italian poet Marinetti published his Manifesto del Futurismo in 1909. Above all, his philosophy called for a rejection of the past and a celebration of change; Futurism was the promoter of urban modernity and the power of the machine, as well as the champion of anarchy and violence. Although Paris quickly became the physical centre of Futurist artistic activity, “Poesia” – the magazine which Marinetti had founded in Milan in 1905 – was the real nexus of Futurism and served as Marinetti’s Futurist propaganda machine (the magazine even described itself as the “Moteur du Futurisme”, or the “Engine of Futurism”). It was in Milan that most Futurist literature, including manifestos, notices and invitations to Futurist events in Italy and France, was printed and then disseminated, via the Italian postal service, across Europe. An interesting aspect of the present archive is that it includes two Futurist broadsides in their original “Poesia” postal envelopes, both addressed to the young Parisian poet Gaston Picard (1892-1962), co-editor of the short-lived magazine for experimental writing L’œil de veau (The Calf’s eye), of which only four numbers were published in 1912.
The archive is comprised of the following:
Manifeste des Peintres Futuristes. Milano : “Poesia”, 1910. Quarto, pp. 4, light central crease. One of the foundation manifestos of the Futurist movement, authored by the Italian artists Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà and Luigi Russolo (all based in Milan), and Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini (who had both moved to Paris from Rome in 1906). These artists were all strongly influenced by Symbolism. The manifesto, principally edited by Boccioni, was issued as a broadsheet on 11 April and was subsequently published in Cœmedia on 18 May. One of its declarations is that “… notre art est ivre de spontanéité et de puissance” (“… our art is drunk on spontaneity and power”).
Les poètes et les peintres futuristes livrent bataille dans les grands théâtres italiens. Milano : Poligrafia italiana, . Quarto, pp. 4, light central crease. Circulated letter, edited by Marinetti, addressed to the press by the editors of “Poesia”, containing information about the recent “happenings” organised by the Futurists in Trieste, Milan and Turin and the reactions they have provoked.
Discours futuriste aux Vénitiens. Milano : “Poesia”, . Quarto, pp. 4, light central crease. Manifesto by Marinetti which forms part of his continuing polemic against Venice, a city he regarded as chained to the past and blind to the future. It also foreshadows his affinities with Mussolini’s Fascism: “… we prepare a great, strong, industrial, commercial, and military Venice that must defy Austrian insolence on the Adriatic, our great Italian lake.” The Futurists used the term “passatism” to describe the adherence to and privileging of outmoded principles by other artists and thinkers. For Marinetti, the city of Venice was the embodiment of passatism in the geopolitical realm.
Venise futuriste. Milano : F. T. Marinetti, . Printed broadside, 438 mm tall, folded as issued, pristine condition; in original orange printed envelope of Marinetti’s “Poesia” magazine, sent from Milan and addressed to M. Gaston Picard, 11 Bd. St. Michel, Paris. Manifesto repudiating the classical art of Venice and announcing the arrival of the Futurists.
Mafarka le Futuriste glorifié par Rachilde dans le Mercure de France. Milano : Poligrafia italiana, 1910. Printed broadside, 420 mm tall; folded as issued, fine condition; in original orange printed envelope of Marinetti’s “Poesia” magazine, sent from Milan and addressed to M. Gaston Picard, 11 Bd. St. Michel, Paris (address crossed out and re-addressed to Ille-et-Vilaine). Reproduction of an article on Marinetti’s chaotic, violent novel Mafarka le Futuriste, published in the Mercure de France on 1 July 1910, in which Rachilde (the pen name of the decadent Symbolist Marguerite Vallette-Eymery) wrote: “… toqués pour toqués, je préfère ceux qui m’amusent à ceux qui me rasent.”
Mafarka le Futuriste devant les Juges. Milano : Poligrafia italiana, . Quarto, pp. 4, light central crease. An announcement circulated by the editors of “Poesia”, intended for publication in the press by sympathetic French colleagues, regarding the charges of obscenity against Marinetti which had arisen from the (subsequently suppressed) Italian translation of Mafarka le Futuriste.
… Grande Exposition du peintre futuriste Umberto Boccioni. Milano : Poligrafia italiana, . Printed broadside, 290 mm tall, folded as issued, fine condition. Exhibition flyer announcing an exhibition of works by Umberto Boccioni to be exhibited in Venice following its successful showing in Milan.
Les peintres futuristes Italiens. Boccioni, Carrà, Russolo, Balla, Severini. Exposition du lundi 5 au samedi 24 fevrier 1912. Paris : Mm. Bernheim-Jeune & Cie, 1912. Duodecimo, printed orange wrappers, pp. [ii]; 32; ; pristine condition. Illustrated catalogue, which includes the text of Manifeste des Peintres Futuristes (1910).
Galerie la Boëtie, Paris. Première exposition de sculpture futuriste du peintre et sculpteur futuriste Boccioni. Du 20 juin au 16 juillet 1913. Milano : A. Taveggia, 1913. Folding card, 120 x 145 mm (folded), printed in blue on apricot; pristine condition. The card is an invitation and “carte permanente” for the first exhibition of sculptures by significant Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni. It also advertises two “Conférences Contradictoires” to take place at Galerie la Boëtie, the first on 22 June by the poet Marinetti on the topic “l’imagination sans fils et les mots en liberté”, and the second on 27 June by Boccioni on Futurist sculpture.
L’art des bruits. Manifeste futuriste. Milano : Direction du Mouvement futuriste, 1913. Quarto, pp. 4, light central crease, short edge tears. Also known as L’arte dei rumori (The Art of Noise), this famous manifesto by Luigi Russolo is considered one of the most important documents in the history of music in the twentieth century (just ask Paul Morley). The influence of Russolo’s Musique bruitiste was more far-reaching than that of any other branch of Futurism, perhaps because a painting in a frame is not as well suited to the expression of anarchy and violence in the same visceral way that sound is. It liberated musicians from the constraints of traditional styles, forms and instrumentation, and its concept is fundamental to the aesthetic of improvisation, Musique concrète, and electronic music.
Premier concert de bruiteurs futuristes. Milano : A. Taveggia, S. Margherita, . Printed broadside, 390 mm tall, folded as issued, fine condition. Review of the first concert of Musique bruitiste. Featuring Futurist noise instruments, it took place in the Teatro Storchi, Modena, on 2 June 1913, under the direction of Luigi Russolo himself.
Gelatin silver print photograph of Marinetti in Italian military uniform, probably taken soon after his enlistment in mid 1915; 140 x 60 mm (sheet 180 x 120 mm); although the print is a cropped version of a larger photograph, it is contemporary with the original.