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Article

Kenneth G. Hay

Italian movement that emerged in the late 1920s from the second wave of Futurism (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder), which it eventually supplanted. It was announced by the publication on 22 September 1929 of the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura, signed by Giacomo Balla, Benedetta (Marinetti’s wife, the painter and writer Benedetta Cappa, 1897–1977), Fortunato Depero, Gerardo Dottori, Fillia, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini, the painter and sculptor Mino Somenzi (1899–1948) and the painter Tato (pseud. of Guglielmo Sansoni, 1896–1974). This text became the key document for the new adherents of Futurism in the 1930s. Although Marinetti had written the first Futurist manifestos, and Balla, Depero and Prampolini were senior figures within the movement, it was Dottori and younger painters who developed the new form most impressively. Building on earlier concerns with the speeding automobile, both Marinetti and the Fascist government gave particular importance to aeronautics in the 1920s, extolling the pilot as a type of Nietzschean ‘Superman’....

Article

Piero Pacini

(b Turin, Aug 18, 1871; d Rome, March 1, 1958).

Italian painter, sculptor, stage designer, decorative artist and actor. He was one of the originators of Futurism (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder) and was particularly concerned with the representation of light and movement. His personal interest in scientific methods of analysis contributed to both the practical and ideological bases of the movement. His oeuvre from the Futurist period overshadowed the work of later years.

Balla was self-taught and began painting in Turin. In 1895 he settled in Rome. At the age of about 25 he painted some lively sketches of urban life that are characterized by a thick impasto, for example the series Machietta romana (1898; Rome, priv. col., see Lista, 1982, nos 12–17) and landscapes showing familiarity with the divisionism practised by the northern Italian artists Giuseppe Pelizza da Volpedo, Giovanni Segantini and Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, for example Luci di marzo (...

Article

Ester Coen

(b Reggio Calabria, Oct 19, 1882; d Sorte, Verona, Aug 17, 1916).

Italian sculptor, painter, printmaker and writer. As one of the principal figures of Futurism, he helped shape the movement’s revolutionary aesthetic as a theorist as well as through his art. In spite of the brevity of his life, his concern with dynamism of form and with the breakdown of solid mass in his sculpture continued to influence other artists long after his death.

Boccioni spent his childhood years in Forlì, Genoa and Padua, then finished his studies in Catania and began to involve himself with literature. In 1899 he moved to Rome, where he developed a passionate interest in painting and frequented the Scuola Libera del Nudo. In Rome he met Gino Severini, with whom he made visits to the studio of Giacomo Balla, who taught them the basic principles of the divisionist technique and encouraged them to experiment with the application of colour in small overlapping brushstrokes. Inspired by his own pictorial experiments, Balla also urged them to develop a compositional method using angles and foreshortening analogous to photographic techniques. It was Balla who first introduced them to the use of complementary colours, which Boccioni later expressed in increasingly dramatic and violent ways, and it was Balla who instilled in him the love of landscape and nature that remained a constant feature of all his painting. In his first years of activity, closely following his master’s teaching, Boccioni produced oil paintings, sketches, pastels, studies in tempera and advertising posters....

Article

Fillia  

Daniela De Dominicis

[Colombo, Luigi]

(b Revello, Oct 4, 1904; d Turin, Feb 1, 1936).

Italian painter, sculptor and writer. He moved to Turin and in 1922 began his literary career by contributing to a booklet of poems entitled 1+1+1=1 Dinamite (Turin, 1922). He started painting as a self-taught artist, using his mother’s surname as a pseudonym. In 1923 he founded the Turin Futurist group, whose other later adherents included the Bulgarian-born painter and architect Nicolay Diulgheroff (1901–82) and the Italian sculptor Mino Rossi (1904–63), with the publication of the manifesto Futurista torinese—Sindacati artistici. Through this group he assumed an important role in the ‘second Futurism’ (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder).

The inspiration for Fillia’s earliest paintings was ‘mechanical life’, which he portrayed by abstracting from the subject using geometrical forms and a lively range of colours. He was clearly aware not only of the work of Giacomo Balla and Fortunato Depero, but also of the contemporary Constructivist art promoted in the periodicals ...

Article

Ester Coen and John Musgrove

Italian movement, literary in origin, that grew to embrace painting, sculpture, photography and architecture, which was launched by the publication on 20 February 1909 of ‘Le Futurisme’ by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. Marinetti’s intention was to reject the past, to revolutionize culture and make it more modern. The new ideology of Futurism set itself with violent enthusiasm against the weighty inheritance of an art tied to the Italian cultural tradition and exalted the idea of an aesthetic generated by the modern myth of the machine and of speed.

Marinetti laid the foundations of the new literary poetics in his first manifesto, written in late 1908. Every new creation or action, he wrote, was now based on the ‘beauty of speed’; museums, libraries, ‘venerated’ cities and academies had to be destroyed, as they belonged to traditional culture. An art born of progress was now to take the place of all the artistic forms of the past, even the most recent ones, because they were stale and static. These words were immediately taken up by a group of young painters based in Milan—...

Article

Saverio Simi de Burgis

(b Treviso, Aug 11, 1889; d Milan, March 22, 1947).

Italian sculptor and ceramicist. He was primarily a sculptor, though in 1902 he started work in Treviso as an apprentice ceramicist, working in the Gregorj pottery there from 1908 to 1912. He returned to pottery later in life working at Faenza and Albisola. Some of his finest pottery consists of plaques of still-life subjects. From 1906 to 1907 he attended the studio in Treviso of a local sculptor, A. Carlini (1859–1945), and subsequently studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice where he was taught by the Italian sculptor Urbano Nono (1849–1925). In 1909 he met Gino Rossi and with him took part in exhibitions at the Ca’ Pesaro in Venice, organized by the art critic Nino Barbantini.

In order to keep himself up to date with new tendencies Martini travelled and, in particular, stayed in Paris where in 1912 seven of his carvings were displayed with work by Rossi and Modigliani at the Salon d’Automne. Typical of this period is the coloured terracotta ...

Article

Laural Weintraub

(b Milan, Oct 24, 1907; d Milan, Sept 29, 1998).

Italian sculptor, painter, film maker and designer. His artistic ambition was influenced by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti whom he met in Milan in the mid-1920s. Munari formally allied himself with the second generation of Futurists in 1927 and continued to exhibit with them into the 1930s (see Furttenbach [Furtenbach; Furttembach], Josef [Joseph], the elder and Aeropittura). Few works of Munari’s remain from this period, as most were made from transient materials. One extant work in tempera from 1932 (see Tanchis, p. 13) suggests that Munari had fully adopted Futurist aesthetics. Several other examples from the 1930s, however, show a clear debt to Surrealism.

In his sculpture from 1930 Munari adopted a different attitude. Aerial Machine (1930; see Tanchis, p. 21), for example, indicates a move towards a Constructivist aesthetic. This elegant object is a precursor of his Useless Machines, the first of which was executed in 1933. Constructed of painted cardboard and other lightweight materials, they served to liberate abstract forms in three dimensions. Moreover, they were meant to integrate with the surrounding environment through their kinetic action....

Article

Piero Pacini

(b Modena, June 20, 1894; d Rome, June 17, 1956).

Italian painter, decorative artist, stage designer, architect, sculptor and writer. He studied at Lucca, Turin and Rome, where he briefly attended the Accademia di Belle Arti, and his work earned the appreciation of his teacher Duilio Cambellotti (b 1876). In 1912 he joined the studio of Giacomo Balla and belonged to a Futurist art collective through which he met the leaders of the movement. In April and May 1914 he exhibited with other Futurists at the Galleria Sprovieri in Rome and, shortly afterwards, in Prague. Figure+Window (1914; Rome, priv. col.; see Menna, 1967, fig.) exemplifies the experiments he was carrying out at the time. He was particularly interested in the use of combinations of different materials and in theoretical speculation, writing in 1915 the manifestos Scenografia e coreografia futurista, Scultura dei colori e totale and Architettura futurista.

Prampolini met Tristan Tzara in Rome in 1916 and took part in the international ...

Article

Roberta K. Tarbell

(b Cleveland, OH, May 10, 1885; d New York, Jan 14, 1964).

American sculptor and painter. Robus studied painting with Henry G. Keller (1869–1949) at the Cleveland School of Art (1903–7) and with Emil Carlsen and Edgar M. Ward (1839–1915) at the National Academy of Design, New York (1907–9). Robus supported himself by designing ivory and gold jewellery in the Cleveland Arts and Crafts Workshop of Horace Potter (1873–1948). In Paris (1912–14), Robus saw the Futurist exhibition in 1912, and studied clay modelling with Emile-Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. He lived near Morgan Russell, Stanton Macdonald-Wright, and František Kupka and discussed with them their non-representational paintings. After 1918 Robus divided his time between New York and New City, NY, an artists’ colony. He depicted speed in Train in Motion (c. 1917–20; Washington, DC, Smithsonian Amer. A. Mus.) with parallel chevrons of saturated colours typical of his Cubo-Futurist paintings. In New York he taught design and painting at the Modern Art School (...

Article

Shin’ichiro Osaki

(b Tokyo, May 4, 1904; d Yokohama, June 13, 2001).

Japanese painter and sculptor. Self-taught as an artist, in the 1920s he met David Burlyuk and others involved with such movements as Futurism, Constructivism and Dada. From 1931 Saitō concentrated on a career as an artist, initially producing Constructivist reliefs. At that time a celebrated incident occurred when he refused to exhibit pieces at the Nikakai (Second Division Society) exhibition on the grounds that his pieces were neither painting nor sculpture: he was first chosen for the Nikakai exhibition in 1936. In 1938, together with Jirō Yoshihara and Takeo Yamaguchi (1902–83), he established the ‘Room Nine Society’ (Kyūshitsukai) with artists of the Nikakai whose works tended towards abstraction. He collaborated on Toro-wood, a series of reliefs (c. 1939) destroyed in World War II (for reconstruction see 1984 exh. cat., p. 54). During the war he was persecuted by the military authorities for his avant-garde activities....

Article

Emily Braun

(b Sassari, Sardinia, May 12, 1885; d Milan, Aug 13, 1961).

Italian painter, sculptor, architect, stage designer and illustrator. He was brought up in Rome where his family moved in 1886. In 1902 Sironi enrolled in the Engineering Faculty of the University of Rome, but after a long illness abandoned his studies to devote himself to painting. In 1903 he attended the Scuola Libera del Nudo at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome and frequented the studio of Giacomo Balla. Following a short spell in Milan in 1905–6, he travelled to Paris in 1906 and shared a room with his close friend Umberto Boccioni. Several family and self-portraits painted in a divisionist technique (see Divisionism) date from this period. Sironi also visited Germany several times between 1908 and 1911, where he was exposed to contemporary Expressionist currents. He lived in Rome from 1909 until he moved to Milan in late 1914 or early 1915.

Sironi experimented with Futurism from ...