Photography | Photographing the Future

Spettralizzazione dell ‘Io, 1931, Maggiorino Gramaglia
Photomontage. Museo Nazionale del Cinema collection, Turin

Fotografica Futurista / Futurist Photography
Galleria Carla Sozzani
Milan | Italy
Curated by Giovanni Lista
Until 1 November 2015

Portrait of Anton Giulio Bragaglia, 1913, Gustavo Bonaventura
Private collection

Already late for a new century that was desperate to put a lid on its predecessor’s old-fashioned ideas about art, Picasso’s celebrated painting Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) is generally accepted as the first cubist work. It signalled the future and was to trigger a revolution. Two years later, sick and tired of Italy’s oppressive culture that was particularly dependent upon its ancient past, Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published his Manifesto of Futurism on the front page of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro, in which he announced, ominously, ‘…we will free Italy from her innumerable museums, which cover her like countless cemeteries.’

Shoe, 1940, Elio Luxardo
Archivio Fotografico Fondazione 3M, Milan

Speed, 1930, Italo Bertoglio
Fondo Italo Bertoglio, Turin

Futurism had significant influence on constructivist, surrealist, dadaist and vorticist painting and sculpture, but whereas these were already established art forms, it would radically alter the course of photography, which had so far been little more than a pastime for those who could afford to play around with it. Taking hold of the illusion of the ‘natural’ that was prevalent in much nineteenth photography, that purported to reflect nature but was actually based on studio constructions and classical composition, it stripped away the artifice, often humorously exposing the old techniques to the viewer. The futurists doubled or split images to capture a sequence, and as a method of freezing movement. They invented ‘fotodinamismo’ or the photography of movement as energy, and explored the possibility of the medium to fix a sudden gesture, or to capture the light trail drawn by a moving body.

Self-portrait with cigarette, 1915, Fortunato Depero
Photo-performance with graphic intervention.
Mart, Archivio del ‘900, Fondo Fortunato Depero

From light to darkness, 1931, Piero Boccardi
Photomontage. Giorgio Grillo collection, Florence

With over one hundred original photographs, representing the work of over thirty photographers, from both private and national collections, Fotografia Futurista at the Carla Sozzani Gallery demonstrates how over a fifty year period the futurists took possession of the photographic language and used it as a medium to capture the pulse of life at the time. In so doing, the futurists transformed photography into the dynamic, potent and multifaceted force it became in both art and commerce in the twentieth century, that continues in the twenty-first century, and will doubtless continue into the future.

All images courtesy Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan, Italy

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