Art: Luigi Russolo's "Dynamism of a car"

Written by Kurt | Saturday, 03 November 2012 23:28

luigi-russolo-dynamism-of-a-carIf we go back into time a bit, to the early twentieth century to be precise, the 'motor car' was still a bit of an oddity, unobtainable for the common man, reserved to the upper classes but clearly a machine with huge potential, one that could change the world. It did of course, years later when manufacturers geared up towards mass production. In the tenties of the last century though, this certainly wasn't the case in Europe. Still, the automobile fascinated the people, not least a bunch of anarchic intellectuals from Italy with a questionable political agenda (they held fascism in high regard). Interestingly, though, they were also a bunch of talented artists who loved speed, movement and thus the automobile. Futurists they were called, their ringleader being writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who published the Futurist Manifesto after going through a near-death experience whilst crashing his Bugatti. Read the Manifesto and you'll see why the car was such an important aspect in the movement. Unsurprisingly it was the subject of many pieces of art the movement produced (read on for some examples).

Like "Dinamismo di un'automobile" by Luigi Russolo which you see above. Look closely and you'll actually see a car among the lines. Russolo attempted to impart the dynamism of the automobile through movement, movement that was portayed in the painting by the supposed sound waves being compressed in front of, and along, the car. Looking at physics it's actually very similar to a 'Doppler effect' graph. The use of repetition of lines to suggest movement is actually something that comes back in many futurist paintings (see this famous one by Balla). It might not seem immediately so, but the Futurists were highly important for the acceptance of the machine age in art and society, which, back then was riddled with traditionalists who were desperately trying to hold on to ideas of an another era, religious influences and the like, whilst despising the automobile and just about anything from the machine age. The Futurists broke the mould. We should thank them for it and celebrate their mad views on painting, sound, film and food (yes, they even did a futurist cookbook)! More of this soon, as this bit of writing was inspired by a University course I did, funnily enough I will actually be writing on cars and movement in futurism to conclude the course (never thought I would end up doing that; cars are important apparently, not mere toys ;-)!