The Futurist Manifesto by the Italian poet and writer Filippo Tommasso Marinetti is often credited as the work that ushered in the period of futurism (Armstrong 2009). The manifesto is famous for its aggressive views such as the need for the demolition of museums, libraries, and art from the previous centuries. The Futurist Manifesto despite calling for the destruction of prior art, entailed foundations and principles that would make it possible for the creation of art, architecture, poetry, craft theatre, among other arts that glorified new art which Marinetti described as the “the only cure for the world”. The manifesto is essential in acting as a source of romantic ideas that shaped how the new world and the new art would come to be developed.
Marinetti’s choice of publication especially moved me because, instead of choosing an artistic publisher, Marinetti opted for a media with a wide readership, and the essay was thus published on the front page of the French newspaper Le Figaro on 20th February 1909. Putting in mind that Marinetti was Italian, his choice for a French newspaper was clear that the Futurist Manifesto was not just geared towards changing the cultural landscape of Italy alone but also that of Europe and beyond.
Additionally, the author’s choice of radical rhetoric was in harmony with his message that called for the destruction of museums, libraries, and other forms of art that were too inclined to historical narratives and used timed out forms of expression. The Futurist Manifesto sought to introduce new aesthetics that would take the place of old aesthetics and also introduce futuristic forms of expression. The radical tone used by Marinetti is influenced by the Communist Manifesto as can be seen in Marinetti’s words “Idealists, workers of thought, unite to show how inspiration and genius walk in step with the progress of the machine, of aircraft, of industry, of trade, of the sciences, of electricity (Marinetti 1909).”
The author’s enthrallment with the advancement in technology, urbanization and increased global industrialization is obvious. And it sets the changes as prospective foundations to aesthetics of the futurist movement. The idea of new aesthetics, as discussed in the manifesto, is primarily as a result of the conflict between Italy’s past and present. In that context, the futurists, therefore, standout as bringers of change through destruction of the past and establishment of a new cultural model.
Parole in Libertia (1919) by Filippo Tommasso Marinetti
The provocative and disruptive piece of art Parole in libertia or rather Words in Freedom is a piece of art that was created by the founder of the Futurism Movement Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. It is, therefore, a real representation of what art ought to be through the eyes of the futurist movement. Words in Freedom, uses powerful, simple syntax, with abrupt shifts from an idea to another (Marinetti 1913). The word-based art use of graphic characteristics such as mathematical symbols and white spaces is in line with Futurist Manifesto because they involve the reader in a highly sensitive experience; visual, aural, and intellectual. The piece of art also utilizes unorthodox and spare punctuation to express ‘freedom’ and deviance to popular culture, which are integral tenets of the Futurism Movement.
Armstrong, H., 2009. Graphic design theory. Readings from the field (NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009).
Marinetti, F.T., 1913. Destruction of Syntax—Wireless Imagination—Words-in-Freedom. Modernism: An Anthology, pp.27-34.
Marinetti, F.T., 1909. The futurist manifesto. Le Figaro, 20, pp.39-44.