A Call for Futurism

In the “Manifesto of Futurist Architecture,” Sant’Elias discusses the problem of architecture being unoriginal and unchanging. His main complaint is that architecture has just become a mesh of classic designs from the Greeks, Byzantine, Japanese, etc. He boldly mocks the architecture during the 1900s as just a “moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements.” As a futurist himself, he states that modern architecture should keep progressing and new forms and styles should be discovered and utilized. How do you feel about architecture in the post modernism era? Do you share similar sentiments as Sant’Elias?

In a similar sense, “The Futurist Manifest” by Marinetti passionately calls for the launch of futuristic art and the rejuvenation of Italy.  He strikes up a comparison between old and new times. He compares admiring the old forms to “pour[ing] our sensibility into a funeral urn.”  He focuses in on an interesting point that humans have the need for change and struggle as “beauty exists only in struggle.” He names this also as a reason for our glorification of war. To what extent is his statement true? Is struggle necessary for happiness?

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2 Responses to A Call for Futurism

  1. Thomas Seubert says:

    In regards to Sant’Elias’ complaints about architecture, I think there is something to be said about designs being unoriginal and boring. Buildings are designed with “straight lines” and then architects add some sort of historically influenced flare. But is this really a bad thing? A giant metallic and futuristic structure built in the heart of a major city, like New York, would only standout and serve as an eyesore. Maybe, minor steps towards practical architectural designs with futuristic planning in mind (say, green buildings) are a more reasonable approach.

    This transition won’t happen without some sort of struggle, the idea that Marinetti highlights. Simply put, most things are dichotomous. Happiness would not be known without the contrast of sadness. What would New York be without the Mets and the Yankees? When it comes to architectural planning, struggle may only make things uglier. There will be to many people trying to influence designs, creating giant spaghetti monster structures all over the planned world. But when it comes to art in general, there must be struggle. Creation mandates struggle.

    There will inevitable be a change in the way buildings are designed

  2. rgalpern says:

    I find manifestos incredibly interesting, and these ones on Italian Futurism are no exception. I think it’s interesting that Sant’Elias’s manifesto presents itself as a break from history, when in reality, I am reading it right now as part of the history of architecture. Either way, I disagree with him on several accounts. I’m currently in an art history class and it seems like Sant’Elias could benefit from sitting next to me. He proclaims, “things will endure less than us,” forgetting that remains of the “decorative” classic architecture structures that he despises still stand in Greece and other places, as a reminder of ancient cultures that are no longer practiced.

    As for “The Futurist Manfiest,” I find it almost too abstract to counter (perhaps some specificity is lost in translation). Again here we see an intentional break from the past (museums are graveyards now, apparently). I think it’s interesting that, like architecture of the past, Marinetti claims that the next generation of futurists should throw them all away one they turn 40. I think at the heart of these manifestos is a sense of control of history, a desire to impose a new style without waiting for it to naturally arise. And indeed, all manifestos follow this line.

    My question is: how would Marinetti feel about the Italian Futurist exhibition at the Guggenheim?

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