Futurism was an early 20th century art movement that sought to capture the dynamism, speed, and technological advancements of the modern world. It originated in Italy around 1909 with the publication of Le Futurisme, a manifesto written by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti.

The Futurist Manifesto rejected the traditions of the past, glorifying instead concepts associated with the future, such as technology, violence, and aggressive industrial development. “We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness,” proclaimed Marinetti. The Futurists believed that the world’s metamorphosis under the force of machinery was something beautiful to be embraced.

Not just limited to poetry and literature, the Futurists extended their radical philosophies to the visual arts as well. Their paintings illustrated aspects of the machine age, with bold colors, dynamic lines of force, and a deliberate unnatural depiction of movement. Giacomo Balla’s painting Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash captures the teeming energy found in the commonplace scene of a dog being walked.

Futurist sculpture incorporated industrial materials like glass, plastic, and metal to create sleek, abstract forms evocative of speed and power. The sculptures of Umberto Boccioni, such as his famous Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, embodied the Futurist goal of dynamically fusing the human body with the machine world.

Beyond just glorifying machines, the Futurists celebrated all aspects of modern life, reveling in concepts like urbanism, nationalism, and even violence and war. Their rejection of traditions and enthusiasm for the new and confrontational led them to praise the advent of World War I as a “hygiene of the world.”

While ultimately a short-lived movement that fizzled out after World War I, Futurism’s lasting legacy is its avant-garde challenge to timeworn traditions. Its bold experimentation with new styles, materials and subjects invigorated the art world and paved the way for other modern art movements of the 20th century. The Futurists’ embrace of themes related to the future left an influential mark on worlds as diverse as architecture, graphic design, and even product marketing.