Futurism is already here

Fortunato Depero revival is a taste of things to come

A selection of the advertising designs Depero created for Campari.
A selection of the advertising designs Depero created for Campari. MASSIMILIANO MINOCRI

The multidisciplinary work of Italian painter, sculptor, set designer, writer and designer Fortunato Depero (1892-1960) has never before been exhibited in Spain. But now, Fundación Catalunya La Pedrera has brought together 200 pieces, the majority of them faithful to Futurism up until 1930, when he returned to Italy after two years in New York, "the Futurist metropolis par excellence."

According to the exhibition's curator, Antonio Pizza, Depero was the artist who best personified the Futurism movement. He and his fellow Futurists, who included such intellectuals and artists as Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, Antonio Sant'Elia, Giacomo Balla and, especially, poet and playwright Filippo Tommaso Marinetti - who founded the movement with the manifesto he published on the front page of Le Figaro in 1909 - adored machines, energy and speed and advocated radically doing away with everything from the past. In 1915 Depero and Balla published their Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe where they optimistically anticipated the radical metamorphosis of art in which the esthetic was filled with dynamism and speed, but also an anthropological project that would change social structures in keeping with the new industrial era.

Their works broke traditional ways of thinking. The paintings burst out of the frames, as in Severini's Plastic Rhythm of the 14th of July; and neither did film, fashion, theater, music, dance, advertising, design escape the new Futurist vision. Perhaps Depero's best-known work is his bottle design for Campari soda, but the rest of his oeuvre remains unknown to the general public. On show here are his designs for furniture for bars, restaurants and homes, and dressing rooms, such as the one he devised for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. There are also his architectural projects, such as his plastic book pavilions or the Casa d'Arte Futurista he built in Rovereto, and toys and puppets.

Choosing not to focus on a high-profile personality who would guarantee long lines makes the show a risky bet. But it is a glimpse of things to come. According to Fundación La Pedrera culture director Marga Viza, the Guggenheims in Bilbao and New York, as well as "a renowned cultural institution" in Madrid, are already planning Futurism exhibitions.

Depero y la reconstrucción futurista del universo . Until January 12 at La Pedrera, C/ Provença, 261-265, Barcelona. www.fundaciocatalunya-lapedrera.com

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