Futurism, Constructivism and Early Media


  • Futurism was an artistic movement that began in the 20th century
  • The movement originated in Italy and influenced other countries
  • Its  influence encompassed every art medium, from traditional art to film fashion, music and ood
  • The founder of Futurism was Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who published the Futurist Manifesto in 1909
  • The manifesto stated that beauty lies in struggle, and glorified war and speed. It celebrated social movement and modern machinery.
  • At times the manifesto was violent, advocating the destruction of symbolic museums and libraries, and expressing a desire to ‘fight morality’
  • Futurist artists included: Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini and the composer Luigi Russolo.


My veiw – I think that the Futurist movement was a bold move. The key concepts behind the movement interest me. I like that the futurists strove for a newer, more modern way of life. I also think that the broad application of the movement through a wide range of mediums is a testament to the popularity of the Futurist ideals. However I think some of the points made in the Futurist manifesto show a violent, anarchistic nature that opposes the natural leadership of society. I find the more extreme Futurist views far less admirable. Marinetti’s clear hatred of anything old also shows a lack of pride in traditions and the origin of his country and society. I think that while I admire the forward-striving nature of Futurism, I aslo believe in celebration of the past. Despite this, I find the artwork created from the movement to be interesting and innovative.



  • Constructivism, was a very similar movement, very much inspired by the Futurists. It began in Russia in 1919
  • Constructivist artists included Ella Bergmann-Michel, Max Bill, Ilya Bolotowsky, Norman Carlberg, Carlos Catasse , Srečko Kosovel and Theo Constanté
  • A famous Constructivist piece is ‘Light Display: Black-White-Grey’, which was created in 1930 by László Moholy-Nagy. The original conception was designed to be filmed in 6 parts, although only one was completed. It is an abstract piece which plays with light and dark.

My view – While Constructivism is a parallel movement to Futurism, I find it has less substance. Comparitively, there is a lack of a distinct leder or pioneer, a figure whose influence is similar to that of Marinetti during the Futurist movement. I find the work born of the constructivist movement to be harder to understand and to have less of a distinctive style. Because of this, while I have no active disliking for Constructivism, I do not particularly like it either, rather finding myself indifferent. My views here are less clean cut than my insticive response to the Futurist movement.

Early media

  • Eadweard Muybridge – an English photographer who used multiple cameras to undertake studies of motion.Famous for sets of photographs including the movement of a horse and a gymnast. His sequences of images could be strung together and viewed as stop motion photography, and became an early form of cinematography.
  • Georges Méliès – A French filmaker born in 1861. Due to lack of money to buy invest in expensive techniques and  film, Méliès re-used, cut up and hand-coloured his film. This lead to his accidentally discovering the stop motion trick, and his experimentation made him very influential in the use of special effects during film-making. He is particularly famous for his 1902 film ‘Le Voyage dans la Lune’, a black and white movie inspire by the work of Jules Verne, which uses a number of imaginitive effects.

My view – I am particularly interested in the work of Muybridge. I enjoy looking at his photographic sequences and feel his work was as important scientifically as it is artistically. I also think he has been influential in later work. While I feel less fondness for the work of Méliès, I have no doubt that he was a pioneer of filmaking and has become iconic and hugely influential. He shows great initiative and inventiveness, and this something I find very admirable.

'Abstract speed and sound' (1913). A futurist painting by Giacomo Balla. The painting depicts speed and movement, typical of the Futurist movement.

‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', bronze sculpture by Umberto Boccioni, 1913. The figure is clearly moveing forward, striving towards the future, while the heavy, metal appearance represents machinery and modern development.

László Moholy-Nagy's 'Lichtspiel, schwarz-weiß-grau', a Constructivist piece which experiments with light and shadows

Does a horse lift all four feet off of the ground at the same time? Eadweard Muybridge's 'horse in motion' set out to answer this question. The resulting work was not only scientifically valuable, but also served as a form of early media.


    About Abi Britton

    Creative Events student from Kent.
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