Book review: FuturBalla, Life Light Speed

I have long been intrigued by the Italian futurists. Radical in its early days, the movement was fascinated by progress, speed, modernity. When researching The Life Negroni, we travelled around Italy in search of arts and ideas, of elements that make this classic cocktail so timeless and so special. We soon realised how interlinked the Negroni is with this creative movement when we came across the rich futurist archives at the homes of Campari and Martini in Milan and Piedmont – private collections bursting with rare and unseen works of art. So, I was hugely excited to receive a book dedicated to the work of one of the pioneers of this movement Giacomo Ballà.

FuturBalla: Life Light Speed is edited by Ester Coen and published by Skira

His inventive and innovative style helped forge a fundamental link between Italian art and the classic avant-garde. Ballà was born into an exciting historical time for Italy, in Turin in 1875. His family soon moved to the new capital Rome where the young artist developed his original style rich in glowing streaks, bold contrasts of light and dark, a daring perspective and a love of detail.

Ballà was fascinated by the power and speed, the machine age and in particular cars which he saw as characteristics of modernity. In his studies between 1912 and 1924 entitled Iridescent Interpenetrations, Ballà began embracing futurism through the colourful synthesis of individual elements of light, and in Line of Speed and Abstract Speed The Car (both 1913) he explores movement and dynamism in a rapidly evolving society. Abstract Speed The Car hangs in the Tate Modern in London and is well worth visiting.

FuturBalla: Life Light Speed presents the work and life of Ballà. This is the most complete monograph on the artist presenting works from public and private collections, Tate Modern and Estorick Collection in London, Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo and the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. The 200 colour illustrations here are supported by insightful essays by the editor, the art historia Ester Coen and contributors Vincenzo Barone, Zelda De Lillo and Luca Francesco Ticini.

FuturBalla: Life Light Speed is edited by Ester Coen and published by Skira

Nargess Banks

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