A historic exhibition by Giacomo Balla in one of the new spaces of our city, Palazzo Merulana. An exhibition that opens onto an imaginary that, albeit dated, is absolutely as avant-garde as the futurist one. An iconic futurism.
Going through the halls of the museum, you can admire all the developments of the Maestro’s career. The Portrait of Primo Carnera (1933), already part of the permanent collection of the Palazzo, is in this respect one of the artist’s most significant works. A masterpiece started in 1926 with Vaprofumo, as we can see by looking at one side of the work, and continued in 1933 as if Balla wanted to somehow innovate it. The artist, in fact, very attentive to contemporary currents, flipping through the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, was struck by a photograph taken by Elio Luxardo which he used for his portrait of the boxing “World Champion”. The same photo was popularised internationally at the time, printing itself in everyone’s memory.
No doubt this “double”work was of great modernity when it was composed. It has a gravure resolution, obtained with a network that made the painted image not just a simple painting but an advertising image. So much so that even today it has the appearance of a visionary work and, at the time, undoubtedly represented an important rupture from traditional schemes.
This is Balla told through “mass communication”, a sophisticated communication, of which only today we are able to separate and read all the various levels of interpretation. The artist was able of tuning into everything that surrounded him. In addition to the gravure, also fashion, culture, cinema: a total and totalizing attunement for the Futurists, already expressed in the official group manifesto (1930), guiding line of their thought.
The title of the exhibition reads“iconic futurism”. At the time, a disruptive imaginary was born that was capable of traveling far thanks to its speed and its ability to extend itself into the beyond, travelling through time and still impacting us. And it will go even further. Balla started from the newspaper and would look ahead, into the future- this is his power. From his beginnings as a pointillist, in a short time he reaches a complete synthesis, becoming almost Pop. Thus the “mass vanguard”was born.
The works on show are among the most significant pages of our history of modern art. An exhibition that I recommend to see even with the little ones. An unmissable event for everyone.
21 March – 17 June 2019. Giacomo Balla. From abstract futurism to iconic futurism. Palazzo Merulana, via Merulana, 121, Rome. Info here.