Past and Futurism in Bragaglia’s photodynamics

The photographic experiments Anton Giulio Bragaglia (1890-1960) published in his 1911 essay “Futurist Photodynamics” sparked a lively debate within Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s movement.

Painter Umberto Boccioni advised friends and colleagues to “avoid any contact with Bragaglia’s photodynamics”. The Futurist magazine “Lacerba” solemnly declared the photographer and film director’s experiments had nothing to do with real art.

According to its noted detractors, the avant-garde photographic method that Bragaglia and his brothers, Carlo Lodovico and Arturo, wished to instill in the newborn Futurist movement was not new or revolutionary at all, and merely represented a trite continuation of old realistic painting. It only yielded a superficial, mechanical reproduction that couldn’t capture the essence of reality.

Marinetti himself had to step in for the debate to settle. He began promoting and even funding Bragaglia’s photography – because he believed it was the future.

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