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Artists - ArtWorks

Name of the Artist / Artwork:

Umberto Boccioni

Country: Italy
Century: 1900 - The 20th Century
Art Period:

Contemporary Art in Italy

Synthetic Chronology:

1882, October 19th- born in Reggio Calabria from Raffaele Boccioni and Cecilia Forlani, inhabitants of Romagna moved to Calabria. When the father is transferred to Forli, Umberto was just born, and will afterwards live his teenage years in Reggio Calabria.
1888 - His family moves to Padova
1897 - He attends the Technical institute of Catania obtaining later on the diploma, afterwards he begins to collaborate with some local newspapers.
1899 - Rome, he enrols for the Free Nude School
1901 - In Rome he lives with an aunt and attends the studio of a cartellonista. That's when he meets Gino Severini: both successively become Balla's disciples and leave him afterwards.
1905 - He exposes in the " exposition of the rejected" , in the National Theatre of Rome.
1906 - April - Umberto travels for his first time to Paris, where it remains till August, then leaves towards Russia, to return the same year in November.

He then settles down in Padova, enrolling himself to the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice, during another trip to Russia he stops in Monaco where he visits the museum. When he comes back he designs, paints actively, also remaining unsatisfied because he feels the limits of the Italian culture that believe still essentially " countrified culture". Meantime faces the first experiences in the carving field.
1907 - autumn - he moves to Milan, the city that in that moment more than others is in rise and answers to its dynamic aspirations. He becomes Roman Romolo's friend and also hangs out with Previati, which seems to influence somehow his painting towards symbolism. He then becomes associate of the Permanente.
1909 - 20 February - Manifest of the Futurism by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, published in this date on “Le Figaro” in French and successively on “Poesia” printed in Milan.
In Milan he meets the “divisionisti” and writes, thanks to his deep understanding with Filippo Tommaso Marinetti,also in collaboration with Carl Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla and Gino Severini, two manifests:
1910 - Manifest of the futurist painters followed by The Technical Manifest of the Futurist movement
“Autograph” by Boccioni is The Manifest of the futurist sculpture movement of the same year

1912 -he publishes The Technical Manifest of Futurist Sculpture. He participates to the collective exposition on the Futurismo at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune of Paris. After Paris, the exposition stops in several European cities, also in Berlin, near the Galerie Tierganrtenstrasse.

1913 -he participates to several collective. Most of all the exposition in the Der Sturm di Herwarth Walden gallery. At the same time he starts studying the dynamism of the human body through a long series of designs and water paints. The result of these searches are some important pictures and some sculptures.

1914 - Umberto Boccioni writes the test Painting Futurist Sculpture for the futurist Editions of "Poesia". From this moment on the artist maturate a crisis which will remove him from precise futurist intentions. He takes part to the " Herbstsalon" , at the gallery Der Sturm. 1915 – He departs voluntary for the war; in this year Boccioni operates a first separation from the futurist poetry; he attenuated the dynamic element, but kept its interest for the plastic image, now mediated by the study of Cézanne.
1916, August 17th - Boccioni dies after falling from horse in Sorte (VR) during a military practice.

The Context:

The artist lives its adolescence during the blooming of the second industrial revolution, most of the peasants in order to earn to live change job and approach the cities, they work in the factories and the mines . The proletarian class is born thus. The Marxist ideas and the first independent organizations of the new social class are diffused. The movie industry is asserted and diffused in the same years of Boccioni's art maturation, and becomes the one and only entertainment of the new reorganized social classes, both for bourgeoisie and lower classes. The context in which Boccioni lived and operated was deeply influenced also by the explosion of the First World war and the participation of Italy in 1915. Joining the ideas of the futurism of the first hour, he supported and inborn the war participation interpreting the war as Marinetti said “the only hygiene of the world”. Later on he had to reconsider himself coining its " war = insects+boredom". The last twenty years of 1800 had accepted like traditionally art the recent realism of Giovanni Fattori, Telemaco Misss till the more modern outcomes of the “divisionismo” by Plinio Nomellini, Giovanni Segantini, Gaetano Previati. Moreover in the city of Milan in wich the artist lived, persisted the still credited school of the Italian romanticismo of Francisco Hayez who directed the academy till 1882, year of his death.


The high school studies of Boccioni are in the technical Institute, when he's twenty he studies design in the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and becomes student of Giacomo Balla. He deeply understands the contemporary artistic atmosphere by travelling to Paris and Russia.

National Comparative:

He meant to re-connect himself to “the revolutionary” lesson of Medardo Rosso; noticing however as this last one had neglected “the problem of a new construction of plans”, and therefore assumed the necessity to create a “style of the movement”- by the co-penetrating of the same plans – so to give constructive and synthetic power to the impressionistic vibration of the light that aimed to represent more than the bodies, their action. He first differs from the “divisionista” lesson that he absorbed and cultivated when he abandoned even more the vibrating fragmentation of the paint-brush strokes for a deepened study of the volumes and their effect in motion. As part of the realistic painting he withholds topics that bring back to the imaginary such as industries, machines, sports, vitality and discards those more melancholic and reflexives.

Artistic Analysis:

The authors of futurist The Manifest thought that the goal of the modern artist was to get rid of the models and the figurative traditions of the past, in order to turn themself decidedly to the contemporary, dynamic, lively world, in continuous evolution. The proposed subjects of the representation therefore were the city, machines and the chaotic daily truth. In his futurist works he succeeded in fusing in one single image the importance of the chronography obtained by Etienne Jules Marey in the 1800's. It is not in fact mechanical science his representation, but dynamic feeling (look at the “Stati d’animo”). Boccioni merged in its paintings the vertical lines of the new scaffoldings and the high horizon, that left to see much part of the ground, with the diagonal dynamic line. He used complementary colours and he saturated the pictures with lines that attract the eye without making it easy to arrest. In the sculpture field the artist neglected the noble materials like marble and bronze, preferring wood, iron and glass. What he was interested in was to illustrate the interaction of an object in motion with the surrounding space: the “futurist sculpture is related to the ambient”, first declaration of an invasive attempt by an atmosphere that is no more any, but strictly connected to the presence of the artistic work and to the situation that is created around it. Coherently to this the literary part of the futurist group was dedicated also to the constructions of theatre scenes with the active participation of the public. These were the first examples with the Dada ones, of participated art. Very few of his sculptures survived. In the most famous “Single Forms of the continuity in Space” the artist succeeds to effectively suggest the idea of movement and the co-penetration of the atmosphere in the figure and vice-versa, even if the material is solid bronze. The first works that we can modernly define “open” were actually born thanks to futurist painting and sculpture. The futurist's work always departs from the reference with the truth. In the group of painters, the one who more than others left this adhesion to the true and opened to the newborn abstractionism was Giacomo Balla with the ”iridescent co-penetrations”.

Transnational Comparative Analysis:

Boccioni is influenced by cubism to which reproaches to be excessive static. It suffers like many Italian artists of the political and cultural movement that characterizes city like Paris and countries like the Russia that matured the revolution. The opposition taken to the tradition recognized and reconfirmed in the Salon is common to the European climate of vanguard. In Russia with little years of delay, (before and between the “constructivism” was born), sees to be born the Russian futurism that becomes representative both of the propaganda and the Municipality. This contrast regarding the Italian futurism that instead was taken more easy as a loan from the fascist party, makes reflect in the same way on the possible uses in social and political field of the intense activities of the art of the Vanguards of the 1900's that often did not impress their strong sign, just like in painting, in the real participation in the society.

Development of the artist's work through the years:

1901 he's influenced as student of the painting of its maestro Balla. In 1907 tightening friendship with Previati he approached the symbolic poetry. 1910 is the year of the change from the short “divisionista” tradition to wich futurist one represented from the picture “the city that grows”. From the year before the artist is active part of the futurist movement. From 1914 his painting has approached the style of Cezanne, reduces therefore the dynamic factor in order to maintain and to develop that plastic


We have chosen Umberto Boccioni as the main exponent of the 1900's for his transformation of the language towards modernity, which can be seen in him better than in others, both in painting than sculpture. Moreover having to plan this “package” in the optic of an historical-stylistic coherence for the students of a secondary school, it has been thought more suitable to refer it at the beginning of the rich 1900's in order to make well clear the connections with the past and the innovations of the beginning of this century.


Robert Rosenblum, Cubism and 20th Century Art, 1960
Mario de Micheli, Le avanguardie artistiche del Novecento, 1986
Carlo Giulio Argan, La storia dell’arte, 1968

Related Material:

Image available

File name: 34_forme uniche della continuità nello spazio.jpg

Description of the material:

Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio” 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', bronze sculpture by Umberto Boccioni,

Contextualisation Of the source:

Museum of Modern Art (New York City)

File name: 34_la città che sale.jpg

Description of the material:

La città che sale" "The city rises"

Contextualisation Of the source:

Famous Futurist painting by Umberto Boccioni

File name: 34_la strada entra nella casa.jpg

Description of the material:

Street Noises Invade the House, 1911, Sprengel Museum, Hannove

Contextualisation Of the source:

Image about Street Noises Invade the House of Umberto Boccioni

Comments about this Artist/ArtWork

Date: 2009.09.18

Posted by Gabriela Kurowska,POLAND

Message: Umberto Boccioni

One of the eminent creators and theoretician of the futuristic sculpture was Umberto Boccioni. Within his compositions he was setting himself against the academic scaling of the nature and historic tradition as well. In architecture futurism tended to be expressed by the visionary projects of the future cities, as in case of Antonio
Sant’Elii- commonly considered as one of the most eminent theoreticians of the modern and functionary urbanities of the initial period of XX century. His projects were displaying simple, functionary skyscrapers made of concrete, steel, glass. Although it was first of all the Italian movement, it played a fundamental role as regards the development of XX century art. In Poland it influenced the form artists. The ideas rooted In Futurism also influenced to much extent on the film art. The period of the most vivid phase of Futurism ended during the I World War, when that group split up. Most of the artist resigned from continuity and they were more engaged in the field of more static and abstract art, even classical art in 20s and 30s. They are a very good example of the common intentions typical of many avangarda styles in the art. of the 1st half of XX century. The wonderful masterpieces by Boccioni can be found also on the below Internet sites:

Date: 2009.05.09

Posted by leo

Message: Art is an informative and may be conveyed online. but the experience of seeing really is irreplaceable.
Therefore we must ensure that the network will push and try to move more than represented.
This is the project that we need more

Attached file: Il moto del reazionario.avi

Date: 2009.04.24

Posted by Riccardo Paternò Castello

Message: Telemaco Misss= Telemaco Signorini

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