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Umberto Boccioni Photo

Umberto Boccioni Artworks

Italian Painter, Sculptor, and Theoretician

Born: October 19, 1882 - Reggio Calabria, Italy
Died: August 17, 1916 - Sorte, Italy
Movements and Styles:

Progression of Art

Self-Portrait (1905)


This Self-Portrait demonstrates Boccioni's style as a student at the Academy in Rome. Although it differs greatly from his mature Futurism, being far softer in its tone and brushwork, he cherished the picture and never sold it during his lifetime. It is typical of the period when he was moving from a style inspired by early Impressionism to a more volumetric approach suggested by study of works by Paul Cézanne.

Oil on canvas - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The City Rises (1910)

The City Rises

The City Rises is considered by many to be the very first truly Futurist painting. Boccioni took a year to complete it and it was exhibited throughout Europe shortly after it was finished. It testifies to the hold that Neo-Impressionism and Symbolism maintained on the movement's artists even after Futurism was inaugurated in 1909. It was not until around 1911 that Boccioni adapted elements of Cubism to create a distinct Futurist style. Nevertheless, The City Rises does capture the group's love of dynamism and their fondness for the modern city. A large horse races into the foreground while several workers struggle to gain control of it, suggesting a primeval conflict between humanity and beasts. The horse and figures are blurred, communicating rapid movement while other elements, such as the buildings in the background, are rendered more realistically. At the same time, the perspective teeters dramatically in different sections of the painting.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Street Enters the House (1911)

The Street Enters the House

The geometric elements and the perspectival distortion in The The Street Enters the House demonstrate the influence of Expressionism and Cubism on Boccioni. According to the original catalog entry for the work, "The dominating sensation is that which one would experience on opening a window: all life, and the noises of the street rush in at the same time as the movement and the reality of the objects outside."

Oil on canvas - Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany

States of Mind I: The Farewells (1911)

States of Mind I: The Farewells

The Farewells was the first of Boccioni's three-part series, States of Mind, which has long been seen as one of the high points of the Futurist style in painting. The focal point of the picture is provided by movement itself - the locomotive, the airplane, the automobile: modern machines that gave new meaning to the word "speed." In this work, set in a train station, Boccioni captures the dynamism of movement and chaos, depicting people being consumed by, or fused with, the steam from the locomotive as it whizzes past.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913)

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

Although Boccioni was a painter first and foremost, his brief forays into sculpture are significant. The speed and fluidity of movement - what Boccioni called "a synthetic continuity" - is brilliantly captured in this bronze piece, with the human figure gliding through space, almost as if man himself is becoming machine, moving head-on into forceful winds. Possibly in homage to Auguste Rodin's Walking Man (1877-8), and the famous Greek statue Nike of Samothrace (220-190 B.C.), Boccioni left the sculpture without arms.

Bronze - Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Charge of the Lancers (1915)

The Charge of the Lancers

The Charge of the Lancers is the only known work by Boccioni that is devoted exclusively to the theme of war. Being a collage, Charge was also a rare departure for the artist in terms of medium. In previous works, Boccioni had used the figure of the horse as a symbol for work, but in this collage the horse becomes a symbol of war and natural strength, since it appears to be overcoming a horde of German bayonets. If, in fact, Boccioni was establishing the brute strength of the horse over man-made weapons, it would suggest a slight departure from the Futurist principles of Marinetti. This work also eerily prefigures Boccioni's own death from having been trampled by a horse.

Tempera and collage on pasteboard - Ricardo and Magda Jucker Collection, Milan

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Umberto Boccioni Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 22 Nov 2011. Updated and modified regularly
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