A Football Art Masterclass: Futurism

By on Mar 4, 2011 in Latest | 0 comments

We are, as some of you will be aware, already covering the wonderful world of literature here on Twohundredpercent with The Seven Ages Of Fan, but now it’s time to delve into the world of art as well. Cafe Calcio is broadcast on London’s Resonance FM on Friday evenings at 9.00pm. You don’t have to be in London to tune in, though. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology you can can listen to it anywhere from here, and you can also catch up on previous episodes on their Posterous site. One of the running themes behind their second series is the link between football and art, and we are delighted to be able  to present Chris Roberts’ primer on the art movement known as Futurism, which will be discussed in greater details on their show this evening. Be sure to tune in. Futurism was a  – largely – Italian avant-garde art movement that took speed, technology and modernity as its inspiration and portrayed the dynamic character of 20th century life and the machine age. Filippo Marinetti’s first manifesto of Futurism appeared in 1909 and painters in the movement attempted to portray sensations as a “synthesis of what one remembers and of what one sees”, and to capture what they called the ‘force lines’ of objects. Some of the lines in their manifesto are worth quoting:

1. We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness.

2. The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt.

3. Literature has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist. (step forward Joey Barton)

They also regarded war as the hygiene of the world, wished to flood museums and destroy libraries – Mr Cameron take note. Further they (point eleven of the manifesto) sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-coloured and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring smoking serpents; bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds.

Sorry I got carried away there, but it is clear there is much in their celebration of crowds, architecture, light and noise which finds an echo in the football stadium. They also captured something of the contempt of the world leading up to and after the Great War and recognised that new ways must be harnessed to take art forward whilst embracing the techniques offered by the modern world. The same force were at work within football and manifested themselves rather later in the 20s and 30s through the dominant sides of the times, Everton and Arsenal.

Everton first acquired their methodical “scientific” reputation in the late 1920s whilst Chapman revolutionised tactics, embraced new technologies and was a good early propagandist of word and deed. There was new found stress on winning, speed and comradeship. It was this era when football finally made a decisive break with the “founding fathers” and started to map out a futurist potential where great crowds could celebrate having been agitated by work, pleasure and revolt.

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