Futurism by bike

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.

Fillia, "Bicicletta, fusione di paesaggio. Idolo meccanico", 1924 - "Bicycle, fusion of landscape. Mechanic idol"

Luigi Enrico Colombo, aka Fillia, "Bicycle, fusion of landscape. Mechanic idol", 1924, oil on board, private collection, Rome

Fortunato Depero, "Ciclista attraverso la città", 1945 - "Cyclist through the City"

Fortunato Depero, "Cyclist through the City", 1945, oil on board, Museo d’Arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto

Fortunato Depero, "Ciclista moltiplicato", 1922 - "Multiplied Cyclist"

Fortunato Depero, "Multiplied Cyclist", 1922, oil on canvas, private collection

Fortunato Depero, "Cicli Bianchi", 1924-1925 - "Bianchi Bicycles"

Fortunato Depero, "Bianchi Bicycles", 1924-1925, colored paper collage, private collection

Fortunato Depero, "Ciclista-fumatore", 1925 - "Smoker-cyclist"

Fortunato Depero, "Smoker-cyclist", 1925, collage, private collection, Genoa

Gerardo Dottori, "Ciclista", 1914 - "Cyclist"

Gerardo Dottori, "Cyclist", 1914, pastels on board, private collection

Gerardo Dottori, "Ciclista", 1916 - "Cyclist"

Gerardo Dottori, "Cyclist", 1916, watercolor on paper, private collection

Mario Sironi, "Il ciclista", 1916 - "The Cyclist"

Mario Sironi, "The Cyclist", 1916, oil on canvas, Gaetani collection, Rome

Mario Sironi, "Il ciclista", 1916 - "The Cyclist"

Mario Sironi, "The Cyclist", 1916, oil on canvas, Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice

Roberto Marcello (Iras) Baldessari, "Il ciclista", 1915 - "The Cyclist"

Roberto Marcello (Iras) Baldessari, "The Cyclist", ca. 1915, oil on cardboard, Nino Carozzi collection, Lerici

Umberto Boccioni, "Dinamismo di un ciclista", 1913 - "A Cyclist's Dynamism"

Umberto Boccioni, "A Cyclist's Dynamism", 1913, oil on canvas, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Umberto Boccioni, "Dinamismo di un ciclista", 1913 - "A Cyclist's Dynamism"

Umberto Boccioni, "A Cyclist's Dynamism", 1913, pen on paper, Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London

Vittorio Corona, "Studio per dinamismo", 1926 - "Study for Dynamism"

Vittorio Corona, "Study for Dynamism", 1926, tempera on cardboard, private collection

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