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Vision of Tomorrow

An Italian landscape called the Future.

Jul 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 41 • By DANIEL ROSS GOODMAN
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Not all Futurist art is as jarring as Boccioni’s strange sculpture. In fact, the majority of Futurist painting is surprisingly beautiful. Carlo Carrà’s Funeral of the Anarchist Galli (1910-11) is one of this exhibit’s many wonderful surprises; the energy of the painting’s frenetic red, black, and orange-tinged crowd scene explodes off the canvas. A Balla painting of a glowing city lamp illuminating a night street is Monet-like in its pointillist portrayal of the distorting effects of light. Some of the paintings here so closely resemble Cubist and Suprematist works that they could easily be mistaken for Braques or Maleviches. Severini’s serene Blue Dancer (1912) is a sublime spiritual masterpiece whose metaphysical and mystical motifs and deep, vivid blue pigments (as well as its title) evoke Kandinsky’s The Blue Rider (1903). Mario Sironi experimented with a hybrid form of Futurism and metaphysical painting (pittura metafisica) as well. 

That such beautiful art became associated with such an ugly ideology—fascism—is disquieting, as is Futurism’s overt misogyny. Like the music of Richard Wagner, however, Italian Futurist painting deserves to be appreciated for the strikingly beautiful—if eccentrically unusual—art that it is.

Daniel Ross Goodman is a lawyer and rabbinical student in New York.

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