Founders of Futurism, including poet Marinetti who wrote the Manifesto of Furturism

On this Day in History: Manifesto of Futurism published

Culture History of Italy News

Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote his Manifesto of Futurism in 1908. It was published in the Gazzetta dell’Emilia newspaper in Bologna on 5 February 1909.

Marinetti expressed an artistic philosophy called Futurism in his manifesto.

An artistic and social movement, futurism emphasised dynamism, speed, technology, youth, violence, and objects such as the car, the aeroplane, and the industrial city. Its key figures also included Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Fortunato Depero, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo.

Futurism also advocated the modernisation and cultural rejuvenation of Italy, aiming to liberate the country from the weight of its past.

What was in the Manifesto of Futurism?

As industry was of growing importance across Europe, futurists needed to confirm that Italy was present, had an industry, had the power to take part in new experiences and would find the superior essence of progress in its major symbols like the car and its speed (article 4). Nationalism was never openly declared, but it was evident.

Farewell to traditions

Futurism set out to make Italy modern by attacking its traditions; to ‘free Italy from her innumerable museums, which cover her like countless cemeteries’. A new beauty, which would replace traditional beauty, was found in the artefacts of modern industry and technology.

Article 10 states: “We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice”.

Literature and poetry

The Futurists also insisted literature would not be overtaken by progress, rather it would absorb progress in its evolution. Furthermore, it would demonstrate that such progress must manifest in this manner because man would use this progress to sincerely let his instinctive nature explode. Man would use speed, not the opposite (articles 5 and 6).

Poetry would help man to consent that his soul be part of all that (articles 6 and 7), indicating a new concept of beauty that would refer to the human instinct of aggression.

Sense of history

The sense of history cannot be neglected. This was a special moment, many things were going to change into new forms and contents. However, man would be able to pass through these variations (article 8), bringing with himself what comes from the beginning of civilisation.

War is a necessity

In article 9, war is defined as a necessity for the health of human spirit, a purification that allows and benefits idealism. Their explicit glorification of war and its “hygienic” properties influenced the ideology of fascism.

Marinetti was initially very active in fascist politics. He withdrew in protest of the “Roman Grandeur” which had come to dominate fascist aesthetics.

Art was not mentioned

The founding Manifesto of Futurism did not contain a positive artistic program. That came later in the subsequent Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting (1914). This committed them to a “universal dynamism”, which was to be directly represented in painting.

Umberto Boccioni, sketch of The City Rises. Boccioni was one of the original Futurists who followed the Manifesteo of Futurism

Eleven Articles in the Manifesto of Futurism

Within the larger piece by Marinetti are the eleven articles which summarise the Manifesto. This is the translation provided by the Italian Futurism website:

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with ardour, splendour, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervour of the primordial elements.
  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.

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