The City Rises by Umberto Boccioni (1910)

Art History: Futurism (early 20th century)

Futurism, an influential art movement that emerged in the early 20th century, sought to capture the essence of modernity and technological advancement through innovative artistic expressions. It celebrated the dynamism of urban life, the speed of machines, and the possibilities of the future. In this article, we'll delve into the main art styles of Futurism, explore the lives and works of five famous painters who were central to this movement, and highlight two significant paintings from each artist's portfolio.

Art Styles of Futurism

Futurism was characterized by its bold departure from traditional artistic conventions and its embrace of revolutionary themes and techniques. The movement introduced several distinctive art styles:

  1. Dynamic Cubism: Futurist artists were inspired by Cubism but added their own twist by emphasizing the dynamic movement of forms. This style captured the essence of motion through fractured and overlapping shapes.
  2. Synthetic Cubism: This style combined various elements from different sources to create a new, dynamic composition. Futurist artists used this approach to capture the fast-paced energy of the modern world.
  3. Divisionism: Also known as Pointillism, this technique involved painting with small dots or dabs of color. Futurists utilized this style to create vibrant and lively compositions.
  4. Futurist Manifesto: The movement's founder, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, published the "Futurist Manifesto" in 1909. This influential document outlined the core principles of Futurism, emphasizing a rejection of the past and a celebration of modernity, technology, and speed.

Five Famous Futurist Painters

1. Giacomo Balla (1871–1958)

Giacomo Balla was a prominent Italian painter and key figure in the Futurist movement. His fascination with light, movement, and technology led to his distinctive style. Two of his notable works are:

  • "Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash" (1912): This painting exemplifies Balla's fascination with movement and depicts a dog on a leash in a series of dynamic, overlapping shapes.
  • "Abstract Speed + Sound" (1913): Balla captures the essence of speed and sound through abstract shapes and lines, reflecting the Futurist preoccupation with the energy of modern life.

2. Umberto Boccioni (1882–1916)

Umberto Boccioni was an influential Italian painter and sculptor, as well as a prominent theorist of the Futurist movement. His works combined dynamism and emotion. Two of his remarkable paintings include:

  • "The City Rises" (1910): This large-scale painting depicts the construction of a city and conveys the power of human labor and technological progress.
  • "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space" (1913): Boccioni's sculptural work is a masterpiece that embodies the movement's obsession with speed and progress, portraying a figure in motion.

3. Gino Severini (1883–1966)

Gino Severini, an Italian painter, was known for his integration of Divisionist techniques into the Futurist style. His compositions often centered around urban life and dance. Two of his notable paintings are:

  • "Armored Train in Action" (1915): This painting portrays the modern war machine in action, showcasing the combination of technology and warfare that was a hallmark of the era.
  • "Dance of the Pan-Pan at the Monico" (1912): Severini captures the vibrancy of a dance hall in this artwork, using dynamic shapes and bright colors to evoke the energy of the scene.

4. Luigi Russolo (1885–1947)

Luigi Russolo was an Italian painter and musician who played a crucial role in shaping the Futurist movement. He was known for his exploration of sound and noise in art. Two of his significant works are:

  • "Dynamism of an Automobile" (1912): Russolo's fascination with speed and machinery is evident in this painting, where he uses sharp angles and fragmented forms to convey the motion of an automobile.
  • "The Revolt" (1911–1912): This painting reflects Russolo's interest in the political and social aspects of the movement, depicting a scene of protest and upheaval with a cacophony of colors and shapes.

5. Carlo Carrà (1881–1966)

Carlo Carrà was an Italian painter who played a crucial role in the early days of the Futurist movement but later distanced himself from it. His works evolved from the frenetic energy of Futurism to more classical compositions. Two of his notable paintings include:

  • "Leaving the Theatre" (1910): Carrà's early work captures the excitement of leaving a theater after a performance, portraying the bustling activity of the city streets.
  • "The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli" (1911): This painting delves into the social and political themes of the movement, depicting a funeral procession with fragmented and distorted forms.


Futurism, a groundbreaking movement in the early 20th century, revolutionized art by embracing modernity, speed, and technology. Through the innovative styles of dynamic cubism, synthetic cubism, divisionism, and more, Futurist painters like Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, Luigi Russolo, and Carlo Carrà reshaped artistic conventions and left an indelible mark on the art world. Their masterpieces continue to captivate audiences, inviting us to explore the dynamic energy of the early 20th century and the fervent embrace of a future shaped by progress.


Shop with us

Back to blog