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  • Umberto Boccioni
    Oct 19, 1882 - Aug 17, 1916
  • Dynamism of a Soccer Player - Umberto Boccioni was an Italian painter and sculptor. Like other Futurists, his work centered on the portrayal of movement (dynamism), speed, and technology. He was born in Reggio Calabria, Italy. His earliest work was romantic and strongly influenced by the floral arabesques of Art Nouveau.
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Dynamism of a Soccer Player
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  • Dynamism of a Soccer Player

  • Umberto Boccioni
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  • 1913
    Oil on canvas
    6' 4 1/8" x 6' 7 1/8" (193.2 x 201 cm)
    Museum of Modern Art, New York, United States.

    In this work a soccer player dematerializes into a luminous and flickering atmosphere, save for his firmly sculpted calf, at center. Here Boccioni offered a demonstration of a principle he articulated in his 1910 text "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting": "To paint a human figure you must not paint it; you must render the whole of its surrounding atmosphere . . . movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies." With stippled brushwork and kaleidoscopic color, the painting communicates the spirited energy of a youthful athlete.

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Other paintings by Umberto Boccioni:

Dynamism of a Cyclist
Dynamism of a Cyclist
Dynamism of a Human Body
Dynamism of a Human Body
Study of a Feminine Face
Study of a Feminine Face
Woman in a Cafe: Compenetrations of Lights and Planes
Woman in a Cafe: Compenetrations of Lights and Planes
Umberto BoccioniA native of Reggio Calabria, Boccioni studied art through the Scuola Libera del Nudo at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome, beginning in 1901. He also studied design with a sign painter in Rome. Together with his friend Gino Severini, he became a student of Giacomo Balla, a divisionist painter. In 1906, Boccioni studied Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles in Paris. During the late 1906 and early 1907, he shortly took drawing classes at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice. In 1901, Boccioni first visited the Famiglia Artistica, a society for artists in Milan. After moving there in 1907, he became acquainted with fellow Futurists, including the famous poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The two would later join with others in writing manifestos on futurism.

Boccioni became the main theorist of the artistic movement. He also decided to be a sculptor after he visited various studios in Paris, in 1912, among which those of Braque, Archipenko, Brancusi, Raymond Duchamp-Villon and, probably, Medardo Rosso. While in 1912 he exhibited some paintings together with other Italian futurists at the Bernheim-Jeun, in 1913 he returned to show his sculptures at the Gallerie La Boetie: all related to the elaboration of what Boccioni had seen in Paris, they in their turn probably influenced the cubist sculptors, especially Duchamp-Villon.

In 1914, he published Pittura e scultura futuriste (dinamismo plastico) explaining the aesthetics of the group: “While the impressionists make a table to give one particular moment and subordinate the life of the table to its resemblance to this moment, we synthesize every moment (time, place, form, color-tone) and thus build the table.” He exhibited in London, together with the group, in 1912 (Sackville Gallery) and 1914 (Doré Gallery): the two exhibitions made a deep impression on the young English artists: some joined then the Vorticism, led by Wyndham Lewis.

Mobilized in the declaration of war, Boccioni was assigned at an artillery regiment at Sorte, near Verona. On 16 August 1916, Boccioni was thrown from his horse during a cavalry training exercise and was trampled. He died the following day, age thirty-four.