1913 - 1950


10 ottobre 2014 – 18 gennaio 2015


   Futurism, the artistic and literary movement that was launched with a starting pistol shot - a metaphor that would become a reality in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I - in the form of the manifesto published by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti on February 20, 1909 in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro, has found its piace in the history of art due to the radicai nature of its proposals. These ideas consisted of abolishing the entire traditional focus of earlier art (considered pure passéism), glorifying dynamism, the machine, speed, and war, liberating words from grammar, and multiplying viewpoints in order to express the dynamic interaction of matter with the space around it.
Since that dSince that date, artistic and literary Futurism has been exhaustively studied, investigated, subjected to criticai analysis, and researched, and has also been presented in group and thematic exhibitions of numerous types, in addition to a large number of exhibitions devoted to the leading figures of its first phase, including Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, and Gino Severini. In February and Aprii 1910 ali of them signed the Manifesto dei pittori futuristi [Manifesto of the Futurist Painters] (pp. 363-64 in this catalogue) and the Manifesto tecnico della pittura futurista [Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting] respectively, texts that proclaimed an aesthetic of enormous visual force and resonance. It is certainly the case that the movement's dynamic early years, from 1909 to 1915, "represent an innovative and vigorous contribution to European painting," sculpture and literature that profoundly impressed many people.

    One of them was Erwin Panofsky. In May 1912, when the German artist and art critic Herwarth Walden exhibited thirty-three paintings by the Futurists in Berlin, the future art historian Panofsky (1892-1968) was twenty years old and was studying Philosophy and Art History in the German capitai. Just two years ago his wife Gerda Panofsky recalled that "Futurist painting so impressed him that many years later he could stili recali, in a letter of September 3, 1967 to William S. Heckscher, the excitement that the exhibition aroused in him at the time."
This generai excitement with Futurism has not diminished but it continues to be, perhaps, too generalized in nature. If this were not the case, why would it be necessary to ask: who is this "Futurist" Depero, the subject of this exhibition? "A multi-talented, cosmopolitan but profoundly Italian figure and a tireless creator." The Depero shown here is less well known on an international level than he deserves to be in view of the real importance and i See Gerda Panofsky, "Eine Schau, die die Kunstgeschichte verànderte," Frankfurter AllgemeineZeitung (May 25, 2012), 31. significance of his work for the internai evolution of Futurism and its present status. This exhibition on his work intends to make it possible to provide him with something as Italian (and universa!) as a portafortuna, a talisman that will bring him more luck than he had in his own lifetime and which will contribute to increase his international renown.

    As already said, by 1913 Fortunato Depero (Fondo, Trento, 1892 - Rovereto, 1960) had been in Rome and had met Marinetti, the founder and guiding light of the Futurist movement. In Rome he visited the Boccioni exhibition at the Sprovieri gallery, and his contaci with the work of this artist and with that of Balla led to a shift in his artistic output: from Boccioni Depero borrowed a visual dynamism and from Balla the tension arising from the abstraction of forms. As early as 1914 Depero was invited to take part in the Esposizione Libera Futurista Internazionale [Futurist Open International Exhibition], also at the Sprovieri gallery, which featured works by Wassily Kandinsky, Aleksandr Archipenko, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Francesco Cangiullo, Giacomo Balla, Arturo Martini, Enrico Prampolini, Gino Rossi and Mario Sironi. That May he returned to Rovereto and exhibited his first experiments with visual dynamism at the Circolo Sociale. Shortly thereafter, in early 1915 Depero was officially admitted to the Futurist movement, of which he would consider himself a member until his death, almost two decades after that of Marinetti in 1944. On March 11, 1915 Depero and Giacomo Balla signed the manifesto Ricostruzione futurista dell'universo [Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe], which can be considered one of the most important landmarks in the evolution of the movement's aesthetic and in which the authors proposed the globalization of the arts and the fusion of art with ali aspects of life. In their text, both artists called for a reconstruction of the world involving a radicai transformation of the environment, ranging from furniture to fashion, film, music, literature, dance, the visual arts and everyday objects. In addition, they declared traditional language to be defunct and called for the elaboration of a new one (which Depero termed "onomalanguage"), an aspect explained in this catalogue by Alessandro Ghignoli (pp. 298-303), which would unite the new life with the new art.

    Today, Depero's work, which defines a frontier between that of the pioneers and that of the continuers of the Futurist aesthetic, has been exhibited outside Italy in several one-man shows since the 1970s (1973: Bonn, Saarbrucken, Hannover; 1982: Salzburg; 1988: Dusseldorf; 1992: Chicago, New York; 1999: Miami; 2000: Tokyo, London, Salford; 2004: Sofia; 2010: Warsaw, Budapest; 2013: Barcelona), but never in a full-scale retrospective exhibition. That said, he has been of Depero and other Futurists, effectively relegating them to a secondary league. As Giovanni Lista noted in his recent Fortunato Depero: ricostruire e meccanizzare l'universo (Milan: Abscondita, 2013), Depero is "the most illustrious victim" of this classification of Futurism into two periods, a primary, founding one and another secondary, almost epigonic one.

    This interpretation has frequently gone hand in hand with an approach to Futurism that is ideologically and politically imprecise with regard to the complex relationships between Futurism and Fascism from the postwar period onwards, an issue on which widely differing opinions are held today, as Giovanni Lista judiciously analyzes with regard to Depero in the present volume (pp. 338-45).
However, perHowever, perhaps the most important reason why the poor criticai and personal fortunes of an in fact "unfortunate" Fortunato Depero are changing is the fact that a certain "painting-centricity" when assessing the early avant-garde movements and in particular Futurism has been overcome. As Maurizio Scudiere has noted in his monumental Depero, l'uomo e l'artista (Rovereto: Egon, 2009), as well as in his contribution to this catalogue (pp. 250-65) and in several of the publications and catalogues that as a renowned scholar he has written on the artist and his work, this emphasis on painting within art history has worked against the real importance that the avant-garde movements had in the fields of the applied arts and design, and the fact that it has been overcome has helped to arouse greater interest in Depero. In effect, he found his piace when it was understood that the cali to "bring art to life," which was common to ali the proclamations and manifestos of the early 20th-century avant-gardes, largely became "real" through "craft" practices that bordered on the fine arts, such as design, decoration, set design, politicai propaganda, and commerciai advertising (fields in which Depero was multi-talented) and which are precisely the subject of reassessment over the past few decades in the field of studies on Futurism and is also admired by contemporary artists, as Fabio Belloni testifies in these pages (pp. 346-53). This situation has undoubtedly been helped by the overcoming of a type of historical interpretation based on an excessively radicai distinction between early Futurism and so-called "Second" Futurism (a term coined by Enrico Crispolti, which made its mark in the 1960s), used to establish a difference between Futurism prior to the death of Boccioni in World War I and that of the postwar period. This idea of "Second" Futurism negatively affected assessments located within daily life, changing the ways in which we live, consume, inhabit spaces and communicate, and giving rise to authentic lifestyles - individual, social, and on occasions even political - through art.

    In fact, Depero himself applied this cali for change expressed in bis Ricostruzione futurista dell'universo as perhaps no other Futurist did: Depero was much more than an artist who enthusiastically embraced the Futurist creed in order to leave behind his early phase as a painter clearly influenced by Symbolism. Rather, he was an artist who constructed a Futurist universe, a multi-faceted, multi-media, total and global artist, tireless as a painter, sculptor, playwright and set designer (as discussed by Llanos Gómez in her text on pp. 280-85), a writer, poet and essayist (as explained by Fabio Echaurren, who surveys almost his entire production on pp. 292-97), a graphic and advertising designer (as described in great detail by Giovanna Ginex on pp. 308-17, and Belén Sànchez on pp. 318-27), a creator of typographical architectural structures and display stands for trade fairs, books, magazines and commerciai logos, a designer of toys and tapestries, a cultural entrepreneur - the founder of one of the first artist's museums in the world, the Casa d'Arte Futurista in Rovereto - the inventor of one of the first artist's books, the celebrated "bolted hook" of 1927, a "portable museum" (to use Raffaele Bedarida's phrase) titled Depero futurista [cat. 148] (analyzed here by Claudia Salaris on pp. 304-7). Time and again Depero moved on from and then returned to his works (in a literal sense, as Gianluca Poldi explains in his text on pp. 266-79), experimenting with the widest range of formats and supports. Some of them he invented, like his celebrated quadri in stoffa, painting-tapestries made with textiles, and ali of them he combined together: painting, printmaking, drawing, sculpture, typography, illustrateti books, collages and photo-collages (as explained by Carolina Fernàndez Castrillo, who discusses Depero's use of photography on pp. 286-91), set and costume designs, and "motorumorist plastic complexes" (a true precedent from as early as 1916 of what we today cali installations), his onomalinguistic compositions and free-word and lyric poetry for reading out on the radio, in addition to his (unsuccessful) attempi to produce a compendium of ali the arts in his project New York, film vissuto [New York - A Lived Film], a book on his experience in New York that would include texts, reproductions of his works, photographs, sound, and moving images. Depero lived in his native Rovereto and also in Capri, Viareggio, Rome, and Paris. He left Italy with the aim of conquering New York, a bold and ultimately failed pian (as Raffaele Bedarida recounts on pp. 328-37). Depero called New York the "new Babel," living and working there between 1929 and 1931, and returning to it in 1947.

    For decades Depero was a kind of film director and scriptwriter of his own life, which he transformed into a remarkable combination of biography and art. He was a source of artistic and human energy in permanent evolution, from abstraction to a Futurism lubricated by the aesthetic of the machine and by a certain magie realism. And his work constitutes a true compass to move within the context of Futurism and Italian art of the first half of the 20th century. essays presented in this volume cover ali important aspects of Depero's work and aesthetic, offering a multi-faceted vision of the artist (see Fortunato Depero, "Multiple Perspective" on pp. 424-25).

    However, the aim here is not just to set Depero in a historical perspective but also to promote an idea from the starting point of a knowledge of his work and a reading of his writings: the idea that Depero is an enormously "young" artist, a true forerunner of a series of traits characteristic of contemporary artista.
Depero is a precursor of the artistic practices known as multi-media work and collective work (the Casa d'Arte Futurista could easily be seen as a precedent to Warhol's Factory or the studios of artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst or Olafur Eliasson). The sanie could be said of his failed New York adventure (contrary to Marinetti's opinion, Depero was years ahead of his time in seeing New York rather than Paris as the Futurist city and the city of the future), and of the modernity of his characteristic conviction that the artist needs to promote himself in the media and self-promote himself. In his ideas on the medianica! living being and the artificial living being, it is hard not to see an anticipation of our highly technological world, from the new technologies to genetic engineering. It is hard to admire Depero's "motorumorist plastic complexes" without thinking of Panamarenko or Jean Tinguely; his use of photomontage and photo-collage without considering them a clear precedent to performance of the type evolved by Fluxus and action artists; or his written texts without referring to contemporary experimental writing.
But what is But what is truly significant in the case of Depero is that ali these connections between his work and the present day come about through a much more direct link than that to be found between these contemporary phenomena and the rest of the Futurists, who continued to work within the narrow field of painting or who returned to figuration or abandoned the movement. There are few texts in Spanish on Depero but there is one very early one, signed by a certain Lamberti Sorrentino (reproduced in Spanish on page 122 of Depero futurista), in which under the title "Fortunato se divierte" [Fortunato has fun] Sorrentino precisely points out this characteristic of Depero: "the authors of the Manifesto of Futurist Painting published in Aprii 1919 and Carrà who later proclaimed on August 11 the Painting of Sounds, Noises, and Smells, pale away as if overshadowed, and in comparison to Depero's most recent discovery their work and ideas seem to be covered with the mildew of time.

    In a photograph of 1922 (pp. 4 and 306 in this catalogue) Depero can be seen getting into a car. The artist wrote on it in ink: "Futuro prossimo." Truly, Depero's future is now very near. Like that of ali major artists, it is taking piace in the present time. ro himseDepero himself applied the cali for change expressed in his Ricostruzione futurista dell'universo as perhaps as perhaps no other Futurist did. He was an artist who constructed an entirely new Futurist universe, a multi-faceted, multi-media, total and global artist: tireless as a painter, sculptor, draftsman, playwright, set designer, writer, poet, essayist, graphic and advertising designer, creator of typographical architectural structures and display stands for trade fairs, books, magazines, commerciai logos, toys and tapestries, a cultural entrepreneur and the inventor of one of the fìrst artist's books of ali times. And he continued to be so until the very end of his life.

Marinetti temporale patriottico, Ritratto psicologico, 1924

Studio per Elettricità, 1914

Veciclisss - Astrazione animale, 1915

Compenetrazione, 1915

Gli avvenimenti, 1916 – Giacomo Balla

Costume per balletto di Diaghilev, 1917

Mandarino per il “Canto dell’Usignolo”, 1917

Il Cigno candido posteggiatore per il “Giardino Zoologico” di Cangiullo, 1917

Al teatro dei piccoli, Balli plastici, 1918

I miei Balli plastici, 1918

Marionette per i Balli plastici, 1918

Diavoletti di caucciù a scatto, 1919

IO e mia moglie, 1919

Città meccanizzata dalle ombre, 1920

Flora e Fauna magica, 1920

Ritratto psicologico dell’aviatore Azari, 1922

Spazialità lunari, o convengo in uno smeraldo, 1924

Gara ippica tra le nubi, 1924

Scarabeo veneziano (Il gondoliere), 1927

Motociclista, solido in velocità, 1927

Panciotto Futurista di Marinetti, Panciotto “Serpenti”, 1923

Panciotto futurista di Depero, 1923

Cavaliere piumato, 1923

Mandorlato “Vido”, 1924

Bitter Campari l’Aperitivo, 1928

1919 Rassegna Mensile illustrata n. 11, 1927

Attività della Venezia Tridentina, 1927

Pupazzo Campari, 1925

Campari, 1931

Unica (Cioccolato) “Uova a sorpresa”, 1927

Linoleum – Il pavimento moderno, 1924
La rivista illustrata del Popolo d’Italia n. 9 1926
La rivista illustrata del Popolo d’Italia n. 1 1927
Buona Pasqua, 1927
1919 Rassegna mensile illustrata, 1919
Emporium vol. XVI n. 396, 1927

Luna Park Esplosione tipografica, 1929

Festa di bambini-strilli, 1929

Famiglia Negra in Elevated, 1929

Broadway, Folla Roxy theater, 1930

Subway, folla ai treni, 1930

Big Sale, 1929

Bozzetto di copertina per Vanity Fair, 1930

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Info Mostra

Fundación Juan March
Castelló 77.
28006 - Madrid

Opening hours
Monday to Saturday: 11:00–20:00 h.
Sunday and holidays: 10:00–14:00 h.

Christmas Hours
The exhibition is closed on:
December 24th, 25th, 31st
January 1st and 6th

Wednesday: 11:00–13:00 h.
The Fundación offers free guided tours in English for groups (minimun group size: 8 people). These must be booked in advance by telephone: 91 435 42 40 (ext. 296)

Monday to Friday:
11:00–19:00 h., except during guided tour hours.
Private guide group visits must be booked in advance by telephone 91 435 42 40 (ext. 296). Maximum group size: 20 people

11:00–13.00 h.
The Fundación offers free guided school group tours. These must be booked in advance by telephone: 91 435 42 40 (ext. 296). Maximum group size: 20 students