Swifts: Paths of movement + Dynamic sequences | Giacomo Balla |1913
Looking at this painting, you would ask yourselves: “What’s this horrible thing?” In the quest for answers, you’ll then look at the title and understand even less: both reactions are the same I experienced when I first looked this work.
Giacomo Balla was an Italian illustrator and painter that adopted a new movement that was called futurism. He was even the signers of the futurist manifesto written by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. When you read this declaration of principles, you find yourself shocked: it has a violent, arrogant and, several times, extremely pedantic speech. We can read in it: “…a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace”, referring the sculpting of the Louvre.
I respect that any person to have their own points of view, it is just that, regarding the futurist manifesto, I don’t share any of them. The author, Marinetti, seems to be just an angry boy. Later on, he would create the Futurist Political Party which, a year later, would be absorbed by the Italian Fascist Party of Benito Mussolini. And then Marinetti will go beyond at writing the fascist manifesto… we make no mistake in saying that this guy was very fond of writing manifestos.
However, let’s get back to art. As we were saying, Balla adopted futurism and focused in the investigation of phenomenon such us light, movement and speed. Today’s work, Swifts: Paths of movement + Dynamic sequences is about the swift, a little bird that flies nonstop for 9 months a year. This animal is just as frantic as the futurist manifesto: their offspring leave the nest suddenly, without any need for previous training; and they never return. This birds also can eat and even sleep while they are flying.
In the painting, we see the trajectory of the movement of the bird, repeating as it goes forward in the flight. This canvas reminds me the biomechanical art of HR Giger who, through his paintings, gave birth to the concept of the movie Alien.