100 Years of the Futurist Manifesto

It is the 100th anniversary of the Futurist Manifesto, as Chris Bangle, design chief of BMW, noted to me recently.

Published in the French newspaper Le Figaro on Feb. 20, 1909, by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, an Italian poet and writer, the Futurist Manifesto was one of the first documents to celebrate the automobile as an object of beauty and to cite speed and acceleration as aesthetic elements. “We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed,” Marinetti proclaimed.

“A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace,” he continued in the most memorable passage.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

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Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,” from 1913. (Museum of Modern Art)

Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space,” from 1913. (Museum of Modern Art)

Celebrating power and speed, praising daring and danger, the Futurists created blurry paintings and shingled sculpture. The Museum of Modern Artin New York and the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London are two institutions holding special exhibitions commemorating the document.

But the Futurists had a short run: World War I soon gave culture more speed and power than anyone wanted. Several Futurists ended up as disgruntled fascists.

The legacy of the Futurists lies less in their own art than in the inspiration they provided designers like Mr. Bangle, who has often said that automobiles are “mobile works of art” and “the sculptures of our everyday lives.”

Theo van Doesburg, 'Base de la peinture concr&...

Theo Van Doesburg, 1929–1930

Hugo Ball—Karawane, Wolken, et. al. (1916–21)

F.T. Marinetti—Dune, Parole in Liberta


manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political or artistic in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.

Manifestos is derived from the Italian word manifesto, itself derived from the Latin manifestum, meaning clear or conspicuous.

The Avant Garde continue to be well-known for their passionate, if not zealous, definitions of focused directions in art and design.

“A manifesto is a communication made to the whole world, whose only pretension is to the discovery of an instant cure for political, astronomical, artistic, parliamentary, agronomical and literary syphilis. It may be pleasant, and good-natured, it’s always right, it’s strong, vigorous and logical. Apropos of logic, I consider myself very likable.”—Tristan Tzara

Some notable ones:
The Futurist Manifesto (1909), by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti
The Art of Noises (1913), by Luigi Russolo
The Dada Manifesto (1918), by Tristan Tzara
The Surrealist Manifesto (1924), by André Breton
The Symbolist Manifesto (1886), by Jean Moreas
Cyberfeminist Manifesto (1991) by VNS Matrix
Dogma 95 (1995) by Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg, Kristian Levring and Søren Kragh-Jacobsen
Manifesto of Transdisciplinarity (1996) by Basarab Nicolescu
100 Anti-Theses of Cyberfeminism (1997) by Old Boy’s Network
Minnesota declaration: truth and fact in documentary cinema (1999), by Werner Herzog
First Things First 2000 manifesto: Ethics and social responsibility in graphic design (1999), by Kalle Lasn & Chris Dixon with Ken Garland. Edited by Rick Poynor
BLAST the Vorticist manifesto, by Wyndham Lewis
The Anti-News Manifesto (2005), by Scott Ryan
Manifesto of Aruša Theatre (2005-2012) by Kazalište Aruša
Manifesto of Amateurism (2006) by Anton Krueger
The Remodernist Film Manifesto 2008 by Jesse Richards

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