Umberto Boccioni died in the first World War before the impact his Futurist art works would be truly felt. It wasn’t until mid-Century that Boccioni’s work was prominently shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it remains an anchor point of MoMA’s ‘story’ of modernity and modern art. Sotheby’s has a work on offer that was owned by the same family for 50 years and previously bought privately from a journalist and friend of the artist. The painting has a £5.5m low estimate and will be auctioned in London on February 28th:
A leading figure among Italian Futurists alongside Severini, Balla and Marinetti, Boccioni played a pivotal role in shaping the visual aesthetic of this short-lived yet highly influential movement. The radical pictorial vocabulary of Futurism developed in parallel with other revolutionary movements, including Cubism and Expressionism, changing the course of Western art. Upsetting centuries of tradition, Boccioni led the way in an influential movement that was assertive, participatory and daring. Painted just four years before his tragic early demise in the First World War, Testa + luce + ambiente encapsulates the artistic innovation of depicting velocity and experience, which was spearheaded by the artist.
Boccioni travelled to Paris in 1911, where he drew inspiration from and reacted against the innovations of Parisian avant-garde artists, coming into contact with the Cubist art of Picasso and Braque. Combining the rigid and ‘pure’ geometry of Cubism with the intuitive, spiritual and personal impulse of Futurism, the artist achieved both fragmentation of form and a visual clarity.