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nothing if not dynamic

June 9, 2009

[Guardian] The futurists were fighters. They revelled in provocation – “the pleasure of being booed” was a kind of catchphrase – but their default mode was denunciation. They defined themselves against. What they were against was far-reaching and ill-sorted. They were against sadness, moonlight, sentimentalised love, syntax, monotony, the tango, Parsifal, Venice, marriage, the papacy, modesty, museums, English art, verisimilitude, the nude (“we demand, for 10 years, the total suppression of the nude in painting”) and, perhaps most surprisingly, “that idiotic gastronomic fetish of the Italians”, pasta. (“It induces sluggishness, depression, inertia brought on by nostalgia, and neutralism.”)

Fundamentally, they were against the past. More than that, they were against what they saw as an infatuation with the presence of the past. Futurism set its face against passéism, as they called it, wherever it might be found. Hence the magnificent diatribe against Venice, “this putrescent city … this bath adorned with jewels for cosmopolitan whores”, with its “stinking little canals … its shady little businesses”, and its gondolas, “rocking chairs for cretins”. (read)

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