Futurism was a social and artistic movement that emerged in Italy in the early 20th century. As a movement it was devoted to aggressively denouncing the past and embraced all things related to the future. The movement began in 1909 when Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published the Futurist Manifesto. In his manifesto, Marinetti asserted that "a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace." The Victory of Samothrace to which Marinetti referred was a classical Greek sculpture. Futurists wanted to free the world from cultural institutions of the past like libraries and museums. Many Futurists glorified war and aligned themselves with the fascist movement. They embraced violence and were intentionally aggressive and controversial.
The Futurists were obsessed with capturing movement in a still image, and took inspiration from Cubism, photography, and divisionism. Futurist painters adopted the intersecting planes of Cubism to show an object in motion from multiple perspectives. Photography, a budding technology, also interested the Futurists. Their paintings can feel reminiscent of a photograph with multiple exposures in which multiple shots are printed in the same photo. Divisionism, the painting technique explored by Neo-Impressionists who applied pure pigment in short repeated brushstrokes, was used by the Futurists as a way to intensify their paintings.
Works of Futurism can be identified by the use of intense colors and dramatic compositions. Powerful machines were a common subject matter of the movement, as were people in motion, speeding toward the future. Subject matter was often abstracted into repeated geometric forms, or presented as a blur. The goal of Futurist painters was to portray the dynamism and energy of modern life and capture the perception of movement at speed. Paintings of this movement used fractured, overlapping planes in their compositions. Futurist compositions feel like they are churning with intensity and often feature short agitated brushstrokes.
Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, and Luigi Russolo were key artists in the Futurist movement. Gino Severini and Giacomo Balla also produced works in the style. The Futurism movement spread across Europe. Many Futurist artists volunteered for military service during the First World War; Boccioni and several others were killed. Their loss and the suffering endured during the war led to the end of the Futurist movement. The influence of Futurism can be seen in subsequent movements, and the 1920’s Art Deco style.