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Gino Severini, 1912

Gino Severini (1883-1966)

Blue Dancer, 1912 
Oil on canvas with sequins 
61 x 46 cm 
Mattioli Collection 
© Colección Mattioli
© Gino Severini, VEGAP, Madrid 2020 

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The movement of the dancer is deconstructed into planes. The curved segments in blue show multiple perspectives of her dress. In the upper section, her face, hair and arms are fragmented into geometric figures. In 1909 Marinetti published the Futurist Manifesto in Paris, notifying the avant-garde of the arrival of an artistic movement from Italy that had rebelled against the Academy whilst embracing the impetus of the city transformed into a factory.  


Unlike Cubism, the objective of the Futurist painters was not to reflect on perspective and the ways in which a three-dimensional object could be presented. They used this form of representation because it offered a sense of dynamism. 


Although the Futurist movement was interrupted by the First World War, in which many of its adherents took part, it traced its origins back to 1909: a time when concepts such as dynamism and speed, so closely linked to contemporary culture, were capable of evoking a sense of progress towards the future. This idea was expressed by the Futurists in their manifesto in the following terms: 


We affirm that the magnificence of the world has been enriched with a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A race car with a hood adorned with fat, serpent-like pipes with explosive breath… a roaring automobile that seems to race over shrapnel is more beautiful than the Winged Victory of Samothrace. 


And, as they explain, this love of speed is linked to the aesthetic of the machine. Scientific and industrial advances had enabled a process of technological development that utterly revolutionized everyday life. For the Futurists, machines signified faith in the future. They are also the most brutal instruments of violence. And this is an essential component in the Futurists’ conception of beauty, associated with struggle and war.