Tate Modern marks Futurism centenary with new show

Wed Jun 10, 2009 2:27pm EDT
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By Josie Cox

LONDON (Reuters) - "Art ... can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice" declared the founding fathers of Futurism, the avant-garde movement formed 100 years ago and celebrated at a major show in London opening this week.

The exhibition at Tate Modern opens with the 1909 manifesto by Italian poet Filippo Marinetti, which set out Futurism's ambition to sweep away the old and usher in a new dawn in art celebrating the dynamism of modern urban life.

The show also examines the battle of the "isms" in Europe in the early 20th century, with leading painters and writers passionately defending their own particular movement, from Futurism to Vorticism, and Cubism to Orphism.

"Futurism," which runs from June 12 to September 20, showcases the work of artists like Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini, but also more famous names like Pablo Picasso.

Many pieces in the collection depict city life as a constant and simultaneous flow of events and experiences.

Telegraph poles, fast trains and industrial buildings, some painted on huge canvases, reveal how the artists were obsessed with innovative urban development ahead of World War One.

"We fight against the nude in painting, as nauseous and as tedious as adultery in literature," the manifesto states, adding that a picture must be a fusion of a subject's psychology and its surroundings.


<p>An example of modernist architecture, the "La Maison Tropicale" is pictured outside the Tate Modern Gallery in London February 1, 2008. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>