Giacomo Balla

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Giacomo Balla (July 18, 1871March 1, 1958) was an Italian artist: art-teacher, painter and poet, who participated in the Futurist art movement.

Quotes of Giacomo Balla[edit]

chronologically arranged, after the date of Balla's quotes
after Giacomo Balla: a later sculptural Construction (1968) after Balla's painting 'Noise and Speed'; - for image of his original painting 'Noise and Speed', 1914-1915
  • In the evening I study a fair.. ..if you could see the pomp and luxury of the merry-go-round and the stands and booths. Everything is decorated in Baroque-style, all gold and silver; there are mirrors, fabrics, and electric lightning. By night the whole thing is fantastic and rowdy. First of all I shall make a small picture and some drawings for illustrations.
    • quote c. 1900, in: Giacomo Balla (1871 – 1951), ed. Fagiolo dell'Arco, exh. catalogue, Galleria Nationale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, 1971
    • Balla studied a fair for his later painting 'Luna park in Paris,' he painted in 1900
  • It will interest artists because, in it, I have made a special study of the way of walking of this girl, and, in fact, I have succeeded in giving the illusion that she is in the process of moving forward.
    • quote c. 1900, in: 'Lista,' by Balla; in catalogue raisonné, Edizione Galleria Fonte d'Abisso, Modena, 1982, p. 248
    • Balla's quote refers to a photo of a moving girl he saw, made before 1900 by photographer Jules-Etienne Marey; the photo was exposed at the Exposition Universelle (1900), visited by Balla, then.
  • Villages and valleys pass by [Balla viewed during his train voyage to Düsseldorf in July 1912] and with my friend the binoculars [field glasses] I stare into the closest windows; semi-undressed people who wash themselves, bedding on balconies, clean almost empty rooms, a stupendous white shoulder of a women who, with a nude arm opens a door and goes inside.
    • quote from a letter to Balla's family, July 1912; as quoted in Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism, by Christine Poggi, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 306, note 34
  • The Rhine, with two long branches, stretches out and loses itself among inlets and hills, the boats of tourists and of industry smoke, white, black, and gray, and small, small, seem almost not to move; the silver clear, transparent water, calm and ordered, contrasts with all the rest.. ..the water gurgles, the sides of the boat are covered in spray, many people greet each other, white handkerchiefs are waved from on high, the hotels, the flags, the inscriptions, the hills and the pointed tips of the bell towers, everything seems unreal, untouchable.
    • quote from a letter to Balla's family, 18 November 1912; as quoted in Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism, by Christine Poggi, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 307, note 36
  • They [ Boccioni and Severini ] did not want anything to do with me in Paris and they were right: they have gone much further than I, but I will work and I too will progress.
    • Balla is quoted here by his former pupil Umberto Boccioni, in his letter to his Futurist art-friend (and also former pupil of Balla) Gino Severini, Jan. 1913; as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 248
    • Balla was referring to his two former pupils

'Futurist Manifesto of Men's clothing,' 1913/1914[edit]

Quotes from: his unpublished 'Futurist Manifesto of Men's clothing,' Giacomo Balla (dedicated to Marinetti], 1914
  • WE MUST DESTROY ALL PASSÉIST CLOTHES, and everything about them which is tight-fitting, colourless, funereal, decadent, boring and unhygienic. As far as materials are concerned, we must abolish: wishywashy, pretty-pretty, gloomy, and neutral colours, along with patterns composed of lines, checks and spots.
  • WE MUST INVENT FUTURIST CLOTHES, hap-hap-hap-hap-happy clothes, daring clothes with brilliant colours and dynamic lines. They must be simple, and above all they must be made to last for a short time only in order to encourage industrial activity and to provide constant and novel enjoyment for our bodies.
  • Use materials with forceful MUSCULAR colours – the reddest of reds, the most purple of purples, the greenest of greens, intense yellows, orange, vermillion – and SKELETON tones of white, grey and black.
    • (Manuscript, 1914); as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 148
  • And we must invent dynamic designs to go with them and express them in equally dynamic shapes: triangles, cones, spirals, ellipses, circles, etc.
    • (Manuscript, 1914); as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008, p. 148
  • We want Futurist clothes to be comfortable and practical
    Dynamic
    Aggressive
    Shocking
    Energetic
    Violent
    Flying (i.e. giving the idea of flying, rising and running)
    Peppy
    Joyful
    Illuminating (in order to have light even in the rain)
    Phosphorescent
    Lit by electric lamps.
  • As a result we shall have the necessary variety of clothes, even if the people of a given city lack the imagination themselves. The happiness of our Futurist clothes will help to spread the kind of good humour aimed at by my great friend PaIazzeschi in his futurist 'Manifesto against Sadness'.

The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe (1915)[edit]

Quotes from: The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe; a Manifesto, written together with Fortunato Depero and published in: Direzione del Movimento Futurista, March 11, 1915, (transl. Caroline Tisdall, 1973)
  • Futurism, as it has developed over six years, has solidified and surpassed Impressionism, has proposed plastic dynamism, atmospheric modeling, and the interpenetration of planes and states of mind.
  • We [Futurists, Balla and Depero ], seek to realize this total fusion in order to reconstruct the universe by making it more joyful, in other words by an integral re-creation. We will give skeleton and flesh to the invisible, the impalpable, the imponderable and the imperceptible. We will find abstract equivalents for all the forms and elements of the universe, and then well will combine them according to the caprice of our inspiration, to shape plastic complexes which we will set in motion.
  • Using complex, constructive, noise-producing abstraction, that is, the Futurist Style. Any action developed in space, any emotion felt, will represent for us the intuition of a discovery.
  • Further developing his first synthesis of a speeding automobile, Balla has arrived at the first plastic complex. This has revealed to us an abstract landscape of cones, pyramids, polyhedrons, spirals of mountains, rivers, lights, shadows. In short, there is a deep analogy between the essential force-lines of speed and the essential force-lines of a landscape.

Quotes about Giacomo Balla[edit]

  • Balla (former art teacher of Boccioni and Severini) flabbergasted us because, not content with being involved in a Futurist campaign, as you can well imagine him doing, he launched himself into a complete transformation. He rejected all his works and all his working methods. He started work on four pictures of movement (one painting was 'Girl running on a balcony'), which were still realist but incredible ahead of their time.. .He confided this to Aldo Pallazzeschi: 'They (Balla's former pupils Boccioni and Severini) did not want anything to do with me in Paris and they were right: they have gone much further than I, but I will work and I too will progress.'
    • Quote of Boccioni, in a letter to Gino Severini, Jan. 1913; as quoted in Futurism, ed. Didier Ottinger; Centre Pompidou / 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008
    • in this quote Boccioni is referring to their common (older) former teacher Balla, who lived and worked then in Paris too
  • The author [Balla] wrote 'Macchina typografica', [his first work for theater, never performed] placed us in geometric order [during a rehearsal in the Salon of Serge Diaghilev, 1916] and with the unfailing grey-rectangular walking stick, directed out machine-like movements and the gestures that we each had to carry out in order to represent the spirit of the single pieces of a rotary newspaper press. I was assigned a 'STA' to be reiterated violently with an arm gymnastically. I felt as if I were in the courtyard of a training barracks. Balla, needless to say, reserved for himself the hissings the onomatopoeias, the most delicate verbalizations, that emerged from his lips intermingled with that memorably Piemontese 'neh' and the uncorking of bottles of Frascati by the incorrigible, bearded Semenoff, which turned everything into an extremely intelligent and amusing grotesque.
    • Quote of Virgilio Marchi, in La Stirpe, Rome, March 1928; p. 159-163; as quoted in Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism, by Christine Poggi, Princeton University Press, 2009, p. 306, note 31

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