Futurism is an avant-garde art movement that was put forward by Filippo Tomasso Marinetti in 1909 and mainly deals with the subjects of speed, dynamism and technology. In their founding manifestos, the futurists cursed museums, academies, all manner of antiquities, moralism and passeism. The Italian Futurists, who are very familiar with the concept of “Destruction”, one of the main lines of anarchism, were not only connected with Anarchists. The founder of the movement, poet Filippo Tomasso Marinetti, was in a  utopian semi-anarchist art group called Abbaye de Créteil for a while in Paris. Marinetti had close contact with several Anarcho-Syndicalist leaders and was a regular guest of Anarchist groups. He contributed financially to the anarcho-syndicalist journal “La Demolizione”, as well as publishing a few articles of the movement. Futurist painters Boccioni, Carrà and Russolo served as graphic designers for several Anarchist publications and were heartfelt supporters of Marinetti when he delivered his most important Anarchist talk – The Necessity and Beauty of Violence. Carlo Carr à depicted the chaotic funeral of anarchist Angelo Galli, who died as a result of police attack, in his painting “The Funeral of the Anarchist Welsh”. Another of the most famous futurist works is the painting “Revolt” by Luigi Russolo.

The Revolt by Luigi Russolo 1911
The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli, 1910-11, Carlo Carra

In his founding manifesto, Marinetti extolled the “destructive actions of anarchists” and blessed “strong individualism that does not prevent you from opening your arms to the anarchist of every country”. Marinetti prophesied that “Humanity is marching towards Individualistic Anarchism, which is the goal and dream of every holy spirit.” In his article titled “The Necessity and Beauty of Violence,” he stated the following:

“You may still not understand who we are and what we want. Tired of nostalgia and academic pretension in a republic of arts and literature steeped in melancholy and soullessness, ambitious for a dashing originality, it will cleanse the Italian soul of all this heap of prejudice, unpleasantness, respect and exaltation called passeism. “Think of absolute rebels and destructive youth who aspire to an adventurous, energetic, casual, valiant life. After all, Futurism is Anarchism in art.”

 Marinetti constructed a fantastic utopia based on the glorification of individualism in his articles “Futurist Democracy (1919)” and  “Beyond Communism (1920)”. Italy; He would be liberated from the pope, the monarchy, and the institution of marriage. Parliament was to be replaced by a government of technicians led by young people. He demanded the abolition of the army, the judiciary, the prisons and the police so that the genius race could create strong, free, hardworking and modern individuals. The country was to be led by art and artists, in other words, a kind of “genius proletariat” that would realize “a marvelous anarchist paradise of absolute freedom, art, humor, progress, heroism, enthusiasm and speed”. 

When Nazi Germany and Italy formed a political alliance, the cultural norms of the Nazis slowly began to permeate Italy. Totalitarian cultural notions such as censorship law, anti-Semitism, “degenerate art”; Marinetti and the Futurists were among the first to oppose them when he began to gain ground in the Italian bureaucracy, and they did their best to combat it. 

We might wonder if it’s an “oxymoron” for these ultra-nationalist futurists to sympathize with anarchism. As a matter of fact, we have to keep in mind that the Futurists were influenced by philosophers such as Gabriele d’Annunzio (We will talk about this multicolored figure who was the commander of the Arditi division in a different article), Georges Sorel, Bergson, and Nietszhe. Marinetti explains this situation with these sentences:

“You have become accustomed to thinking that patriotism and war are completely opposed to anarchism, in which many lives are consumed by the passion for freedom. I declare that these two obvious opposites, the collective and the individual, are closely intertwined. Is not the development of the collective, in fact, the result of the efforts and undertakings of many individuals? Its well-being is shaped by the antagonisms and harmony of the multiple organisms that compose it.”

“Do not the anarchist’s subversive acts represent the absurd but beautiful longing for an ideal of justice that may never be realized? Aren’t these acts a rising barrier against the invading arrogance of the ruling classes?  Personally speaking, I would say the anarchist’s bombshell is directed against the sly attitude or country of the bourgeois hiding in time of danger. I would rather the despicable selfishness of the peasant who deliberately injures himself than to serve.”

Note: This one was a translation from Turkish from our friends at Chaotic Autonomy.

One thought on “ITALIAN FUTURISM, FT MARINETTI AND ANARCHY by Chaotic Autonomy”

  1. Hello,

    The more articles that I read on Futurism Forever and more podcasts that I listen to on YouTube, the more I am beginning to develop a better understanding of Futurism as an Artform that can stand its ground like Heroic Realism. Just as Heroic Realism is an Artform that transcends Ideology as a Weltanschauung, a similar argument should be said about Futurism. But unlike Heroic Realism, Futurism does have that one aesthetic which I am always looking for in an Artform when discussing Technology. It is an Artform that stresses the need to articulate the best aspects of modern life, the desire to wipe the slate clean of everything which cannot be preserved, and the determination to build something completely new.

    The Artform compels me to find true beauty in the factories, the modern cities, and the working machinery which ultimately makes the modern life of the West a wonderful place. A high-speed rail transportation network or the clockwork-like precision of the manufactory are what comes to mind. But as much as I would like to describe the readers of my Blog to the Artform, I must ask: is there an accessible, easy-to-digest introduction to Futurism? Are there any good paintings worthy of compiling a brief art gallery?


    Liked by 1 person

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