Giacomo Balla the famous Italian futurist

Giacomo Balla, Screen for Stravinsky's ballet. 1915
Screen for Stravinsky’s ballet. 1915

Giacomo Balla is a great painter of the 20th century, a representative of the first wave of Italian futurism, one of the the most influential masters of the last century. Giacomo Balla’s work is an attempt to convey dynamics, to grasp the very essence of movement. His paintings are lyrical, full of light and rhythm.

Giacomo Balla is the author of works where things and living things are depicted in dynamics. The artist managed to achieve this effect due to his deep knowledge of photography.

Luigi Russolo, Carlo Carrà, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini in front of Le Figaro, Paris, February 9, 1912
Luigi Russolo, Carlo Carrà, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini in front of Le Figaro, Paris, February 9, 1912

Biography of Giacomo Balla, the first of Giacomo’s futurists

Balla was born on July 18, 1870 in Turin, in a poor family of a pharmacist. The future genius woke up early interest in painting and photography that had just appeared. After school, the boy got a job in a lithographic workshop and began to study the basics of drawing.

Despite poverty, in 1891 the future master managed to get into the famous school of arts at the Turin Academy of Albertina. At the same time, he worked in a photo workshop he studied photography and immediately applied the knowledge gained in practice. In the future, this hobby had a strong influence on his work.

Giacomo Balla, Conversation. 1934
Conversation. 1934

A few years later, in 1895, the artist moved to Rome. Giacomo Balla believes that his talent will be used in the capital and he will be able to improve his affairs. And he succeeds in Rome, the painter really begins to make money with creativity he draws cartoons and posters, decorates packaging and gives lessons.

In 1900, Balla went to Paris, where he studied painting and got acquainted with French impressionism. He is very interested in the works of Paul Signac and Georges Seurat. Sympathy for impressionism becomes the beginning of a passion for futurism.

Giacomo Balla, Doubts 1908
Doubts 1908

After returning to Rome, the artist is already quite famous.

He has his first students, including Umberto Boccioni. They say that Balla was fascinated by esotericism, occultism and all sorts of mystical phenomena, participated in spiritualistic seances. This hobby also left an imprint on his work. The master’s contemporaries also recall that he was very interested in Freemasonry, but he never entered the Order.

In 1910, Giacomo Balla, together with other artists, published the Manifesto of Futurism. The main thesis of this work is the use of art as a tool in the fight against the old order. The manifesto glorifies the future, exalts movement and progress.

Giacomo Balla, Girl running on the balcony, 1912
Girl running on the balcony, 1912

It is to Ball’s work and his interest in movement that the world owes the emergence of animation. The painter strove to capture the different phases of movement in a single work. This is how The Dynamics of a Dog on a Leash, Hands of a Violinist and other masterpieces appear. The master plunges deeper and deeper into his studies of movement and light, creates more and more abstract works. Gradually, he transfers the ideas of futurism to other areas of art sculpture, theatrical scenery and costumes.

Giacomo Balla remained faithful to futurism even when other adherents of this direction changed roles. Only in the 30s of the XX century, the artist returned to traditional painting. The reason for this, according to some historians, was the attempt by the founder of the movement, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, to put Futurism at the service of Catholicism.

Giacomo Balla, Lagnello street. 1942
Lagnello street. 1942

However, the break was not final the master remains in touch with the futurists.

This continues until the Nazis came to power. Like Marinetti and many other Italian artists, Balla sympathizes with fascism and its ideas. Later, when futurism and avant-garde are declared “degenerate art”, Giacomo Balla claims that he has nothing to do with it.

After the fall of the Reich, the artist paid in full for his sympathy he was ostracized, branded a marginal. However, despite his relationship with fascism, the master went down in history as the greatest painter of Italy. He died after a long illness in Rome on March 1, 1958.

The origin of the idea 1920
The origin of the idea 1920
The most famous paintings

Giacomo Balla’s paintings never gravitated towards violence, did not mechanize a person. Compared to the works of other futurists, they are more humane. The most famous masterpieces of the artist:

  1. Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912). On the canvas, the movement of the legs of a small dog and the legs of its owner is well conveyed.
  2. Street Light (1909). The painting depicts a street lamp whose glow overshadows the crescent moon. To write the masterpiece, the masters were inspired by the lanterns of one of the Roman squares.
  3. The Violinist’s Hand (1912). The piece depicts the movement of a musician’s hand.
  4. “Abstract speed sound” (1913-1914). The painting explores the speed of a racing car. Perhaps the work was originally part of a triptych. According to the BBC, the masterpiece is one of the hundred greatest paintings in the world.

Ball’s creativity became the basis for the development of modern abstract art. Today, his works adorn the exhibitions of famous museums and force viewers to discover new meanings for themselves.

The origin of the idea 1920
The origin of the idea 1920
Violinist's hands
Violinist’s hands
Like this post? Please share to your friends: