Umberto Boccioni is considered one of the founders of the futuristic movement of art known as the ‘machine age.’ His representation of technology, movement and speed in his paintings and sculptures inspired and impacted future generations.
Umberto Boccioni was born on October 19, 1882, in Reggio, Calabria, Italy. He studied art in Rome after graduating from the Technical Institute of Catania. While his earliest contributions were inspired by the floral arabesques of Art Nouveau, his fascination for the technological advances of his era would inspire him to greater heights. Hence, he began to experiment with more futuristic art forms.
As a young artist, Umberto Boccioni began to study Divisionism in 1901 but did not begin to apply its principles until about 1908 when he moved to Milan and met F. T. Martinetti, the leader of the literary Futurist movement. Martinetti was inspiring artists of that time to let go of old traditions and allow modern times to inspire new techniques and subjects in their art forms. While this concept of changing the face of art horrified some, it intrigued others like Boccioni who followed the path towards futuristic art. In 1910, Marinetti led the way for the Futurist movement by signing the "Manifesto of Futurist Painters", along with Boccioni and other famous artists of that time such as Gino Severini, Carlo Carrà, Balla, and Luigi Russolo.
The Futurist movement inspired Boccioni’s most famous painting entitled ‘The City Rises,’ which pays tribute to the technological turbulence of modern civilization during the early 1900’s.
After his first solo exhibition held in 1910 at the Galleria Ca' Pesaro in Venice, Umberto Boccioni began sculpting. ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space’ is one of the many sculptures the futurist artist created that conveys human figures in movement using ‘lines of force’ to replace the use of straight lines. To add to his many accomplishments, Boccioni wrote ‘The Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture’ in 1912, as well as a book in 1914 entitled ‘Pittura, scultura futuriste: Dinamismo’, which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive statements of futurism ever written.
In 1915, Umberto Boccioni joined the Italian Army as a volunteer cyclist. He was released after a few months and returned to painting in a more restrained manner that has been compared to the style of Cezanne. He was killed in a riding accident in Sorte in 1916. His life and career may have been cut short, but his contributions to Futuristic art will forever be remembered.