Futurism by bike

Enzo Benedetto,

Enzo Benedetto, "Cyclist", 1926, oil on board, private collection

Futurist artists loved the power of motorcycle engines, but also appreciated bicycles – which they portrayed on canvas, boards, and cardboard inspired by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s dynamic ideals.

Historian Mimmo Franzinelli has said, “Futurism imparted new energy to cycling compositions, clearing them of any romantic aura and projecting them into the future.”

“[…] Paintings exalted the bicycle, with a number of works celebrating speed in a ‘dynamic sensation made eternal as such’. According to the ‘Manifesto of Futurist Painters’, indeed, ‘everything moves, everything turns quickly; a figure is never stable in front of us, but appears and disappears incessantly. Due to the persistence of the image on the eye’s retina, moving things multiply, deform, chase each other, like vibrations, in the space they cross.”

“In 1915, Boccioni, Marinetti, Sironi, and some of their art colleagues joined the Lombard Voluntary Cyclist and Automobile Driver Battalion.”

“In 1912, Umberto Boccioni painted ‘A Cyclist’s Dynamism’ in an avant-garde style that well represented quick movement in space. In 1916-1917, Mario Sironi composed with somber colors two works, both titled ‘The Cyclist’.”

Fortunato Depero was fascinated by bicycles, and dedicated several works to two-wheelers: from the 1922 ‘Cyclist’ (watercolor on paper) to ‘Cyclists’ (1922), with three men pedaling side by side, and to the mature composition ‘Metropolitan Bat’, also known as ‘Cyclist through the City’ in 1945” (translated from M. Franzinelli, “Il Giro d’Italia: dai pionieri agli anni d’oro”, Feltrinelli, Milan 2013).

Let’s pedal into the future.

January 25, 2016