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"Noise from the Street: Italian Futurism from 1909 to 1918"
2001-03-11 until 2001-06-24
Sprengel Museum
Hannover, , DE

The Sprengel Museum in Hannover is presenting, for the first time in Germany, an extensive exhibition on the first decade of Italian Futurism (1909 to 1918). It covers the period from the first Futurist Manifesto of F.T. Marinetti to the end of the First World War - a period in which Futurism was given its theoretical foundation and its artistic expression.

In this country there has so far been no in-depth reflection on this movement so important for Italian and European art of the 20th century. The reasons for this are manifold. First and foremost, the Futurists (like the Russian avant-garde later) saw their work in a decidedly political context. In the case of the Futurists this was the unity (and imperial stature) of Italy. The driving force behind the movement, F. T. Marinetti, was not alone in fostering the hope that Futurism might evolve into the official national school of art, into the symbol of the 'Italianeitą' and of the 'Irridentismo' and thus play a leading ideological role in Italy and Europe. Some years later this aspiration was to bring the Futurists perilously close to Fascism (Norbert Nobis). An aberration which made later generations keep their distance and stigmatized the artists concerned and Futurism as a whole for a long time. Other reasons for the reservations about Futurism are the dogged battle waged by Futurists against German art and culture as well as - in return - the emphatically nationalistic attitude in the reception of this art movement in Germany. This notwithstanding, Futurism has many intellectual and formal points in common both with French Cubism and German Expressionism.

However, these interactions are not the only reason for taking a close new look. Unlike most contemporary artists in Europe, the Futurists were keen to welcome and glorify the advance of technology in around 1900. It is therefore fitting, now that the 20th technological century is drawing to a close and being superseded by the Digital Revolution, that the art of this epoch should be studied from new angles. It was at that time that Einstein's theory of relativity and Planck's quantum mechanics initiated a radical revolution in general theories of cognition (Francesca Talpo), and this soon had its repercussions in all fields of art. The discoveries that time is a mental construct and matter cannot be separated from energy fermented in a cultural climate which - satiated by Nietzsche's Promethean Superman, Bergson's rejection of the intellect as the seat of cognition and various euphorically vitalistic programmes for reforming life - cried out for a new approach trusting in the intuition of the artistic subject. We want to return to life ... everything is in motion, everything is in the throes of rapid change it says in the Technical Manifesto of 1910.

To do justice to this new situation and sensitize society with an aesthetics aimed at changing the praxis of life, the Futurists alloyed social revolutionary, anarchistic and national-chauvinistic positions with a euphoric faith in progress (Christoph Hoch) and, on top of this, created the formal repertoire of the modern avant-garde: happenings, polemics, manifestos and aggressive agitation. Unlike the Dadaists and Surrealists, who reacted to industrial modernization with scepticism and anti-bourgeois protest, the Futurists were concerned to glorify modern life, which the victorious natural sciences are incessantly and vigorously transforming. In doing so they cultivated a claim to totality beyond art, which mainly manifested itself in outward activities to aesthetically reflect and elevate social reality. A process which screams out at us today in all fields.

Noise from the street. Italian Futurism from 1909 to 1918 will encompass about 300 works from the Fine Arts (paintings, sculptures and drawings) along with documentation of the Futurist manifestos and other publications of artists of this movement. Special prominence will be given to the founder members of Futurism - Marinetti, Balla, Boccioni, Carrį, Russolo and Severini - whilst all other artists are represented with outstanding examples of their output.

The Futurist movement was by no means confined solely to painting and sculpture. This exhibition will consequently encompass not only the Fine Arts, but also architecture, photography and stage design with selected examples. In an extensive accompanying programme, all the artistic fields covered by the Futurists and the versatility of these artists will be documented with readings of literature, film shows and musical and theatrical performances.

A lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue containing articles from reputed international authors on a variety of aspects of Futurism will be published. To prepare the exhibition we have created a panel of experts, bringing together - amongst others - Prof. Dr. Enrico Crispolti from Rome, Dr. Massimo Carrį from Milan and Prof. Dr. Ulrich Krempel from Hannover. The curator of the exhibition is Dr. Norbert Nobis.


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