Giacomo Balla, a Futurist reconstruction of the universe


From October 12, the Bottegantica Gallery will host an exhibition dedicated to Giacomo Balla on the sixtieth anniversary of his passing; the exhibition, titled Giacomo Balla, a Futurist reconstruction of the universe, includes thirty works by the Italian artist.

The exhibition opens with a section dedicated to some preparatory works as well as to a series of paintings dating back to the years 1912 to 1930, including Portrait of Laura Marcucci aged one, Dining Room, Interpenetration leaves + sky + light, and the sketch for The Idea Rises. The following section is dedicated to the applied arts, and it includes design furniture pieces such as folding screens, sketches, crockery, rugs, and pillows, all created after the publication of the Manifesto of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, in 1915.

One of Giacomo Balla’s many merits was freeing and renovating the idea of avant-garde itself, extending it far beyond painting or sculpture, in order to create a radically original and innovative language. Among the Futurists, he was the first and only to succeed in this venture, managing to expand his aesthetic idea from painting to clothes, to furniture, design, theatre, cinema, and architecture, in order to reach his ultimate goal: “total art”.

After joining the Futurist movement in 1910, Giacomo Balla went through a long period of introverted experimentation of the new avant-garde stylistic features and contents. In 1913 he finally finished developing his own mature and original version of Futurism with the Iridescent Interpenetration cycles and the Abstract Speed cycles, which consecrated him as one of the most original representatives of the Futurism movement. Later, in 1915, Giacomo Balla developed an even more original language within Futurism itself. He abandoned the broken down brushstroke (typical of the Divisionist movement), which until then had represented his last link with the “genetic complementation” described in the Technical Manifesto of the Futurist Painting. Indeed, this thread-like, nervous, almost sharply dynamic stroke, visible in his works dating back to 1910-1913, still linked him to the experiences shared with other exponents of the Futurist movement in the first decades of the century.

The innovative use of industrial varnishes, as well as watercolor based inks, in addition to the classic techniques (oil and tempera), reflects a tension towards modernity even in the choice of materials, and gives the paintings from this period an unusual chromatic brilliance, with uniformly coloured surfaces, interpenetrated shapes and sharp dynamism. Dating back to the same year, 1915, are the “plastic complexes”: pure and “anti-atmospheric” structures combining three-dimensional elements (mirrors, thread, cardboard, foil), which sublimate Boccioni’s idea of polymateric sculptures, freeing it from its iconographic and physical references and redefining dynamism in a purely abstract and rhythmic way.

The extraordinary “interventist” paintings, dating back from the same period, are also characterized by pure varnished colours, sinuous geometric shapes and a complete lack of natural shapes. Giacomo Balla calls himself an “abstract futurist” in the Manifesto of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, which he signed in 1915 with Depero.

The exhibition is hosted by Galleria Bottegantica (via A. Manzoni 45, Milano) from October 12 to December 2, 2018.

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