Sample Research Paper on Influence of Futurism in the advancement of aesthetics on modernity in early twentieth-century Italy

Question: Researchers have often questioned; what role futurist played in the advancement of
aesthetics on modernity in the 20 th -century Italian society?
Thesis: The futurists played a great role in enhancing the cultural renewal and the modern form
of socio-political ideologies in 21 st century Italy. This paper will look into the following fronts:
1. The aesthetic limits of Modernism
2. A futurist desire for radical and social-cultural renewal
3. Fascism as a modern form of politics

Futurism as art and philosophical evolution came to light during the early 20th century,
echoing a hunger to create new forms of art, philosophy, and social groups. It exhibited rising
industrializations, featuring urbanization, nouveau technologies, and war. Futurism was a
movement that inspired the waves of avant-garde Modernism in 1909, extending past a
positively transforming social Darwinism and decaying aestheticism. Founded by Filippo
Marinetti, Futurism superseded the beau mode of galleries and paintings to pursue modernity. It


indicated right-wing beliefs and cultural nationalism, reproducing itself as the voice of
advancement and the machine age (Editors of Phaidon Press). Since the futurists were against
subjectivism's theoretical nature, they represented their future visions by incorporating urban
landscapes and new technologies such as trains, cars, airplanes, etcetera into their illustrations.
The futurist glorified violence, the working class, and also speed to advance change in their
works. Futurists used numerous manifestos to express their opinions on aesthetics, politics, and
social ways. For logistic purposes, the futurists' society painted their art and included
advancements in the print media and modern transport to disseminate their agenda. The futurists
highlighted several proclamations, writing topics such as art, painting, architecture, music, and
One of the agendas for futurist beliefs was a futurist regeneration of the universe. The
futurists meant to offer accounts to unify art and politics, which led to the advancement of fascist
political ideologies. Futurism was an attempt at advancing modern ways in society. A whole
regeneration to restore magic, a re-civilization point based on the utopian philosophies,
completing the dynamic of creative destruction which led to a barrage on other liberal and
socialist administrations of Europe. Italy tried to yield a new culture regarding the national,
racial, and historical upheaval to design a customized (their) modernity. Cultural regeneration
was a heroic initiative of an artistic, cultural, socio-political, and economic enterprise, augured
by criticism and political arbitration.

Aesthetic limits of Modernism

A number of the most creative artists and prophets of Modernism had a special interest in
the field of socio-political innovation. However, the political affiliations of these Avant-Garde
modernists were not exclusively left-wing. Marinetti and many other prominent futurists viewed


Futurism as the realization of their vision, a shift of civilization based on advanced technology.
Moreover, artists like Pablo Picasso were strong supporters of socialism and anarchism, being
the permeable membranes between modernist aesthetics and politics.
It is also important to take into consideration the underlying motivation behind Avant-
Garde movements which widened the chasm of visionary hopes between modern aesthetics and
socio-political utopianisms. Most of their manifestos identified with rejections of the aesthetic
belief of art as a spiritual refuge for an immoral and materialistic world. Some artists had even
begun launching a spiritual renaissance to solve the moral crisis of modernity and affect material
civilization internally. Filippo Marinetti, a pioneer of the futuristic notion, sought to cast a wave
of dynamism into a technological revolution that was spreading across the West, threatening to
submerge the gerontocracy of an old Italian tradition and antiquity. Marinetti claimed he wanted
to establish Futurism where they would free the land from its 'smelly gangrene of professors,
archaeologists, tour-guides and antiquarians'. The futurist and expressionist views were
influenced by other earlier artists such as Van Gogh and D'Annunzio who believed in moral
decadence and spiritual bankruptcy in the modern world. Philosophies also controlled them on
works by Frederick Nietsche such as 'Creative Destruction', 'Will to Power' among others

A futurist desire for radical and social-cultural renewal

Art has always been viewed as the antidote to the decadence of earth as a spiritual
wasteland. Futurism was determined to celebrate industrialization. Due to the reclining status of
the nation, Futurism strived to infuse the current situation with beauty and machine revolutions,
purposefully to restore the secularized West, bringing about a renewed consciousness. Futurism


was encountered as a mission to reconstruct society by creating a new civilization. Marinetti and
other proponents sought to capture the concept of modernity, the feeling and aesthetics of speed,
transport and industrial development. The Futurist Manifesto set a blazing tone, where Marinetti
lashed out against the cultural traditions (passatimo) and called for mass destruction of museums,
libraries and feminism. Futurist painters Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Gino Severini,
Giacomo Balla and Luigi Russolo were the first to inscribe their insignia into their first
manifesto in 1910, declaring their works to be completely original.
Futurists merged their art and political agenda to fuel change across Europe. They would
hold what they termed as 'futuristic evenings' where they could perform and exhibit their artistic
illustrations while also screaming political rhetoric to the audience in the aim of inciting
rebellions. Futurists believed the only destruction could end the status quo, and allow
regeneration of a much powerful Italy. Futurist admired and loved violence. The Futurist
Manifesto had originally posited to glorify war (terming it the world's only hygiene), militarism,
nationalism, beautiful ideas worth dying for and women (Marinetti n.p). The futurist's position of
chaos led to most of them supporting the coming Great War, even enlisting en masse. Boccioni
was among the futurists that enlisted in the army. It is therefore correct to say that these
revolutionary ideologies culminated in the horrors of the World Wars.
The futurist patriotic ideologies influenced Italy into joining the world war in 1915,
which could have been an achievement for their enterprise. Gino Severini worked on paintings
and pictures of war such as the War, Armored train and Red Cross train. The futurists' message
exhibited an obscure ideology; for they viewed themselves as an intellectual class whose plan
was to lead the new Italy, but were still against the philosophical intellectuals such as professors
whom they viewed as corrupt and stinking. It is in this disorder that they made no alliances either


with the right-wing nationalists or the left-wing socialists, both of whom supported their notions.
Therefore, their work only became a cultural and intellectual legacy for the more politically
astute individuals. The futurists became steadfast fascists, however remaining somewhat
sequestered, others even organizing themselves as independent political parties briefly
(Adamson, p31).

The resulting modern form of politics

The most powerful revolutionary politics in the twentieth century came up as a result of
futurist propaganda. Fascism played a focal role in the insurrections that marred the 20th century,
against the status quo proclaiming the idea of a new order, not only against despotism but
modernity itself. The futurist school of thought induced a spirit of anarchism that sought radical
solutions not only to capitalist exploitation and class but also to social isolation. These actions
were fuelled by the fantasy of a harmonious world devoid of historical horrors. As a result, more
subversive fascism was created, influenced by the futuristic relationships on cultural policies, art,
and architecture. Art was seen as a conception and formation of a new world by a new rule
whereby the forces of capitalism would anymore disintegrate culture. After the war, the futurist
crusaders' active nationalism ideologies led to a coalition with Benito Mussolini and his National
Fascist Party. The architecture that prospered under Mussolini's rule was viewed as an
architectural projection by people like Giusseppe Terragni and Libera; artists who were
motivated by rationalism and futuristic fluctuations of architectural experiments. The
architecture was also an effort to find a harmonious integration between aesthetic and
representative techniques of international modernisms. Artists whose works were based on
fascist Futurism include Giusseppe Pagano and Marcello Piacentini. Furthermore, artists such as
Mario Sironi had works that outlined an absolute dedication to the aesthetics from his


understanding of the national revolution mission backed by a 'rooted futurism', a practice of the
modern age strengthened from a heightened awareness of the Italian Roman and neo-classical
Fascism was defined by the underlying national and racial restoration ideologies, whose
influence attempted to stimulate cultural revolutions. Kallis' study can be scrutinized based on
Futurism as a cultural renewal of a whole nation and not just the evil thought of a narcissistic
leader. Kallis observed that Futurism was embroiled in a very serious purpose in turning Rome
into a symbol of a new civilization that allowed its past to reshape an envisioned future with
aesthetic stimulus as a model of its totalitarianism. His book portrays intense discussions on
skilled architects who pushed for a totalitarian regime that took projects of urban renewal
seriously and offered artists a chance to design the style and ethos of a new nation.
In conclusion, it can be said that the futurists were from the propagation of frustrated
intellectuals, with the desire to keep their own 'under threat' social role relevant while vindicating
for a new culture of modernity. Futurists greatly revolutionized politics and radical aesthetics in
early 20 th century Italy.



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Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.
Goodwing-Williams, Robert. Zarathustra's Dionysian Modernism. Stanford: Stanford University
Press, 2001.
Kallis, Aristotle. The Third Rome, 1922–1943: The Making of the Fascist Capital. Houndmills,
Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
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