During the first decade of the twentieth century, a group of young Italian painters united together, under the influence of poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Before creating their new style, these painters embraced the ideas of Marinetti’s The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism which appeared in thenewspaper Le Figaro on February 20, 1909. His manifesto of futurismwas primarily concerned with peotry, but artists such as Boccioni, Balla, andSeverini used his ideas and applied them to painting and sculpture. The Museum of Modern Art holds Umberto Boccionis Dynamism of a Soccer Player, 1913, afine example of the Futurist vision. In his Futurist Painting: A TechnicalManifesto, Boccioni tells us that the growing need of truth is no longersatisfied with Form and Colour as they have been understood hitherto.
Thegesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment inuniversal dynamism. It shall be the dynamic sensation itself. This goal of creating the dynamic sensation itself, rather than simply afixed moment within a dynamic action is exemplified, among other ideas of theFuturist movement in Boccionis Dynamism of a Soccer Player. Before goingfurther however, it is necessary to discuss some of the principles of Futurismas created by Marinetti. Marinettis The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism isa work which begins like a work of poetry, and deals with the celebration withthe technology, the future, and the machine, while rejecting the natural worldand the past. Marinetti despises the sounds created by canals mutteringfeeble prayers, and the creaking bones of sickly palaces, while heembraces the famished roar of automobiles.
He orders usto shake the gates of life, and instead, test the bolts and hinges. To Marinetti, technology and machine, such as automobiles, are tobe embraced and celebrated for its speed and beauty. No longer is a natural landscape beautiful, rather the worlds magnificence has been enriched by anew beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with greatpipes, like serpents of explosive breath a roaring car that seems to ride ongrapeshot is seen as more beautiful than any romantic painting. In addition to celebrating the machine, the Futurist movement represents astriding towards the future. This is accomplished by rejecting all of the past,even going as far as saying that it is harmful. Marinetti instructs his followers to destroy the museums, libraries, and academies of every kind. He explains that it is damaging for an artist to daily visitmuseums, libraries, and academies, calling them cemeteries of empty exertion,Calvaries of crucified dreams, registries of aborted beginnings!
Umberto Boccioni was a follower of Marinetti, and used his ideas to create his own manifesto, Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto, which contains theideas and objectives manifested in Dynamism of a Soccer Player. The Italian movement represents a celebration of the machine and technology, embracing speed and dynamism. Paintings in this style utilize contrasting complementary colors, triangular patterns, and repeated patterns in order to simulate movement and feverish speed. Boccionis work combines many elements of modern art, forinstance, the geometric design of the Cubist, Neo-Impressionism pointillist brushstrokes, and vivid coloration. Though the painting does not contain amachine in a technical sense, it is still a work inspired by the writings ofMarinetti. Concerning the idea of the beauty of speed, Boccioni is successful increating a work which has a very quick and dynamic feel to it.
He chose a soccerplayer as his subject, and rather than painting him in the traditional sense,the subject is portrayed in a manner as to show movement and dynamism. Boccionis goal was to show the dynamic sensation itself, and not simply the fixed moment in universal dynamism. This is accomplished by painting the figure, especially his leg, numerous times, becauseon account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves . The soccer player appears tostart out on the right side of the canvas, and then run into the depths of theupper left corner. This feeling is also created by the shapes and colors used. There appears to be a trail of light going into the upper left corner of thepainting which gives the impression that the figure is feverishly running off.
The triangular shapes surrounding the figure give the painting a cyclical feel,and also give the figure a sense of rapid movement. Boccioni wanted to create this feeling of speed and dynamism, for he believed in the Futurist idea ofstriding into the future, and not looking back into the past. The shapes within this work give it a Cubist quality, but it contains much more vibrant coloration and sense of movement. Boccioni created with vibrant and complementary colors dynamism of a Soccer Player. The colors used for the figure and the surrounding areas of purples, blues, reds, greens, yellows, and oranges are appropriate fora painting celebrating the future and technology. They appear to be unnaturaland coming from a modern unnatural source of light.
In his manifesto, Boccionidelclares that innate complementariness is an absolute necessity in painting and that the time has passed for our sensations in painting to be whispered. We wish them in the future to sing and re-echo upon our canvases in deafening and triumphant flourishes. The complementary colorsused also contribute to the dynamism of the work in a similar way that thejuxtaposed complementaries used by the Impressionists create a flicker and senseof movement. Boccionis Dynamism of a Soccer Player is a work which is an appropriate example of the manifestation of the Futurist ideals proposed byMarinetti. With its appearance of speed, sense of striding toward the future,and aggressive character, this work is the embodiment of Futurism.