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2009 not only celebrates the centenary of the Giro d’Italia, it also marks the 100th anniversary of Futurism – an artistic movement that embraced the bicycle as a symbol of dynamic modernity. The Tate Modern in London is currently holding an exhibition to celebrate the work of the Futurists.
1909 was the year that F.T. Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto was published. This declaration of a new cultural movement inspired by contemporary industry, communications and the machine proclaimed a burning desire to race into the future. Marinetti wrote; “we want no part of the past”, expressing the Futurist’s rejection of the staid, classical culture of the 19th century and rejoicing in modern life and its progression into the future. Fascinated with the “dynamics of existence” and revolting against the old static modes of existence, the Italian Futurists called for a new aesthetic language appropriate for modern times. The speed of technological progress and brevity of modern life informed the Futurust ‘art totale’ to embrace dynamism and movement in painting, sculpture, architecture, film, textiles and music.
“Dynamism of a Cyclist” - Umberto Boccioni (1913)
The dynamic interaction between man and modern materials is most apparent with the road cyclist. Whilst motorbikes and cars were also depicted by Futurist artists, the bicycle represented the most intimate marriage between modern technology and man. The futurist aesthetic of energy running through matter and man was perfectly captured by works such as Umberto Boccioni’s “Dynamism of a Cyclist”. The elements of speed, rhythm, noise and paths of movement known so well by the cyclist were expressed in the paintings of artists such as Giacomo Balla, Mario Sironi and Natalia Goncharova.
“The Cyclist” – Mario Sironi (1914)
It could be argued that the road cyclist is the ultimate manifestation of Futurism - rhythmical, fast and machine like (see Kraftwerk), moving through the modern landscape with self-propelled velocity. Futurists introduced an aesthetic which reflected the new sporting activities of the era and represented a step forward from the classical world. Futurist clothing was created based on principles such as comfort, hygiene, practicability and agility. The designs of the Futurists, whose research was based on speed in motion, can be seen in the work of contemporary sports designers (see Rapha). Balla and then Thayaht designed a one-piece garment the “Tuta”, a prototype to the well loved skinsuit. Shapes created by Boccioni, Thayaht and other Futurist sculptors can be seen as a precursor to the aerodynamic elements used in modern kit and bike design.
Stars of road racing, from Coppi to Merckx to Moser to Armstrong will have ridden bikes and worn kit that was indirectly influenced by the aesthetic of the Futurist movement. The highly graphical and dynamic style born out of the new speed and movement of modernity is ever present in the Peloton today.
Futurism at the Tate Modern runs until 20th September.
- @flammecast @AaronBuggle His Shrone is fine !!!
- Big thanks to all marshals,coms and medical staff on the @anpostras today. Great work despite the numerous demands on their services today.
- Just to let all his girl fans know @AaronBuggle is ok. He's in hospital and will need some surgery on a cut to his chin. Will update later.
- We've just added 13 new rides since the weekend to our Rapha #womens100 Find a Ride list. → http://t.co/ux8c1JCuQc
- The team also racing the Ras in Ireland this week. Currently Aaron Buggle is the team's top placed rider in 15th overall.
- Tour Series resumes tonight in Stoke on Trent. RCJ line up is House, Clancy, McCallum, English and Mellor.
- Arboretum → http://t.co/cJXOyDWnK0 #raphasurvey #sanfrancisco #sf #cycling
- There are still a few of these sweet Rapha + Raeburn jackets at the SF @raphacycleclub. http://t.co/C2d98yCRL0
- The hills above. #raphasurvey http://t.co/jlIkXowxyT
- U23 winner in 2012 what's in store for @RichHandley90 in the @anpostras http://t.co/xyZWX3NbtG