Christopher Nevinson, New York by Night, 1920, and The Soul of the Soulless City, 1920
After the end of the First World War in 1918, British artist Christopher Nevinson began to artistically move away from his brutally dynamic Futurist style. He visited New York in 1919 and 1920, and became quite fascinated by the urban sights and sounds. Much of his work from this time features compositions dominated by the city’s sky-scraping architecture.
Carlo Carra, The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli, 1911
Angelo Galli was an Italian anarchist who was killed by police in 1904 during a general strike in Milan. His funeral was a controversial and eventful affair, involving major conflicts between Galli’s mourners and the police.
Umberto Boccioni, 1911, States of Mind: Those Who Go
Christopher Nevinson, 1915, Bursting Shell
From the Tate:
One of the most apocalyptic of Nevinson’s paintings, Bursting Shell uses the strong lines and swirling movement of Futurist and Vorticist compositions to recreate the effect of an explosion. The dark shapes, which could be shards of debris or shadows, fracture what appear to be the bricks and timber of buildings and roads. The strong focal point of the vortex - with its bright light and dizzying spiral - simulates the disorientating sensory experience of an explosion.
Giacomo Balla, 1923, Pessimism Versus Optimism
Christopher Nevinson, n.d, Loading Timber, Southampton Docks
Umberto Boccioni, n.d, Portrait of a Seated Woman
Giacomo Balla, 1914, Planet Mercury Passing in Front of the Sun
ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Christopher Nevinson, 1889-1946
From the Tate: English painter. Son of H. W. Nevinson, the war correspondent and author. His formative years as a student were spent at the Slade School of Art (1909–12) in London. The Futurist Exhibition of March 1912, held at the Sackville Gallery, London, proved decisive for his development.
Futurism had by now become a catchword in London for anything new and outrageous, and the British avant-garde grew resentful of its influence. Nevinson continued to make Futurist paintings of machine-age London, celebrating the dynamism of the underground Tube trains, the traffic in the Strand, and a Bank Holiday crowd on Hampstead Heath. The advent of World War I changed his mind. Having gone to France with the Red Cross and been invalided home soon afterwards, he announced that he would be using ‘Futurist technique’ to express the reality of war in his new work. In subsequent paintings Nevinson confirmed that he saw the Great War essentially as a tragic event. Bleak, outspoken and often angry, his paintings of 1915–16 are among the masterpieces of his career, bravely opposing the prevailing jingoistic tendency. By 1919 he had given up Futurism. Retreating instead to a more traditional vision, he painted lively interpretations of New York, which fuse a lingering love of Futurist angularity with a new respect for naturalistic observation. Nevinson was at his best when dealing with the dynamism and vertiginous scale of big-city life. In later years he concentrated more on pastoral scenes and flower pieces, where a gentler mood prevailed.
Dynamism of an Automobile by Luigi Russolo, 1912-13
I’m not 100% sure what the red waves represent in this piece by Russolo: perhaps they are sound waves or beams of air resistance? Whatever they are, I love how the black mass of the car bursts through them creating the illusion of a dynamic captured snapshot.
Picking Apples by Natalia Goncharova, 1909
There’s something about the composition of this piece by Russian avant-garde artist Natalia Goncharova that reminds me of two particular Post-Impressionist series: Paul Cezanne’s Bathers and Paul Gauguin’s studies of Tahitian natives. I’m sure there are hundreds of similar works - as is the way with artistic inspiration - however these two really stand out for me.
Paths of Glory by Christopher Nevinson, 1917
Sometimes the title of a piece can completely change the way it is read by its audience. Paths of Glory evokes both a satirical and sorrowful side to the tragedy of war on young soldiers and their wasted lives.
Forces of the Street by Umberto Boccioni, 1911. I love the sharp luminosity Boccioni has created in this piece and the way the light is reflected across the various street surfaces, creating an artificial rainbow.
The Boulevard by Gino Severini, 1911
Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash by Giacomo Balla, 1912