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"Italian Futurism" opens Feb 21 at the Guggenheim (slide show)

Families can explore nearly three decades' worth of works by Italian Futurists, from mind-blowing paintings and architectural drawings to advertising.

  • Photograph: Luca Carrà

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Photograph: courtesy Solomon R.

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Image: Francesco Cangiullo / ©

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Photograph: courtesy Fondazione

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Photograph: © MART

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Photograph: Claudio Marcon

    "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Photograph: Luca Carrà

"Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


The movement of Italian Futurism is in the spotlight at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, thanks to the show "Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe," which opened on Friday, February 21. The exhibition winds up the spiraling museum walls seamlessly in chronological order, letting young visitors take in as much or as little of the show as they please. Here are five things your family won't want to miss on your visit.

Anything by Umberto Boccioni
The show is brimming with works by this passionate artist, who was not only one of Futurism's very first practitioners but also one of its finest. (He was also one of the first to perish, in World War I.) Look out for his powerful bronze sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity of Space (1913); his tumultous painting The City Rises (1910–11); and the intriguing triptych States of Mind (1911). See if the kids can discern the figure in Dynamism of a Cyclist (1913); it takes a little while till you see what you're meant to, but once you do you'll be entralled.

Some architectural dreams
Halfway up Ramp 3, kids can check out a slew of sci-fi-ish drawings by architects Mario Chiattone and Antonio Sant'Elia. Their unique visions of a future city may not ever have become reality, but they are testament to the beauty of dreaming itself.

The work of a primal ad man
Seek out the artwork and advertising of Fortunato Depero throughout the show. His 3-D sculptures are irresistible (particularly his series of eight rhinos); his paintings are totemically abstract (especially his 1920–21 depictions of devils); and his wildly imaginitive advertisements for products like Campari are iconically groundbreaking.

Total art
One of Futurism's big ideas was opera d'arte totale (total art): an all-encompassing environment whose every element is part of an artistic whole. A fascinating example of the principle in practice is Gerardo Dottori's Cimino home dining room set from the early 1930's. Everything in it—table, sideboard, chairs, sconces—relates to everything else by virtue of its form, and together they create a magically real-life tableau. Another example, at the very end of the show, is artist Benedetta's Synthesis of Communications murals: enormous works on canvas that she created for a post-office conference room in Palermo, Sicily. Their scale and colors take over the gallery, and your senses, completely.

Aerial points of view
One of the most fascinating parts of the show, found on Ramp 5 near the show's finish, is its collection of paintings depicting an aerial perspective. Originally, Futurism started out obsessing over speed with the likes of trains and cars. Naturally, the advent of commercial and military flight in the 1930s gave the movement's artists a new catalyst for creativity: the airplane. Look out for Tullio Crali's dizzying Upside Down Loop (Death Loop) (1938), which gives viewers the sensation of looking at the world from the air—upside down; Tato's Flying Over the Coliseum in a Spiral (Spiraling) (1930); and Crali's astonishing Before the Parachute Opens (1939). As with many of the other works on view, the time you put into studying it yields a breathtaking eureka moment.

"Italian Futurism: 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe" is on view through September 1.


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