Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giacomo Balla and Me

 At left (Giacomo Balla's "Street Light" 1909)


Occasionally I like to talk about my use and misuse of art historical resources.  One of my favorite painters is Giacomo Balla.  He was an Italian "Futurist" painter who believed that the world would be greatly improved by the use of technology.  


February 20, 1909 an article was published that marked the beginning of an age of science fiction.  Electric lights shattered the darkness of the night.  Medicine conquered new diseases.  Artists and poets pronounced their verdict: the past was obsolete.  They saw a new world where it was no longer necessary to remember: one must always look forward. 

Jacquie M. Balla  16"x10" oil and acrylic on panel
The founder of the Futurist movement was the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, (1876-1944).  In 1909 Marinneti shocked and mobilized Europeans into accepting the wave of the future by publishing his “Manifeste de Futurisme” in the Parisian newspaper Le Figaro.  Marinetti, bilingual, international and irresistibly modern, nevertheless borrowed from the past's French avant-garde poet Charles Baudelaire. By using an almost traditional symbolist pastiche of onomatopoetic words, shocking imagery and radical ideas Marinetti influenced Europeans to believe that the future was going to be a fabulous place.  Similar to Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal, in style and influence Marinetti's manifesto inspired succeeding generations.  A group of Italian artists, Gino Severini (1883-1966), Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), and Boccioni's teacher Giacomo Balla (1871-1958) seized Marinetti's ideals and wrote their own "Futurist Manifesto."
 
The Italian Futurists believed science would create a new and better world.  Electricity would destroy the darkness of ignorance. Factories and automobiles would move life along at a lightening pace.  Life was going to be easier, but in order to accomplish this, the past needed to be wiped clean.  Marinneti advocated war as a way to do this in his 1915 collection of poems Guerra sola igiene del mundo (“War the Only Hygiene of the World”).  In 1916 Boccioni, who had enlisted in the army during World War I, fulfilled Marinetti's prophetic vision by dying from wounds and a fall from a horse.


My painting of Jacquie M. Balla is reference to Balla's Street Light c.1909


I invited internet authors to write a story about Jacquie, you can read the stories here:
http://kenney-mencher.blogspot.com/2010/12/write-story-about-jacquie-m-balla-and.html 
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Similar blog posts about technique and the use and misuse of art history:



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