The Influence of Baroque Art in Italy

Italian Futurism Art

Futurism is the common name of the artistic avant-garde movements in painting, poetry, architecture, and outlook of the 1910s – early 1920s that developed primarily in Italy and then – in Russia (Adams, 2007). In the visual arts, Futurism is based on Fauvism, from which it borrowed the color patterns, and Cubism, from which it took its art form but rejected cubic analysis (decomposition) as an expression of the essence of the phenomenon, thus trying to direct the expression of emotional dynamics of the modern world (Adams, 2007). The main artistic principles of Futurism were speed, movement, and energy that some futurists tried to convey by relatively simple techniques. Their paintings are characterized by energetic compositions where the figures are split into fragments and they intersect at sharp angles; there dominate flickering shapes, zigzags, spirals, oblique cones, where the motion is shown by imposing successive phases on one image – the so-called principle of simultaneity. The purpose of the paper is to investigate the Futurism art in Italy and its impact on the Italian culture.


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Futurism Art in Italy: The Context and the Emergence of Futurism

Futurism was an indivisible part of the Italian history of culture and art. Futurism was born in Italy, but the first manifesto by Marinetti was published in Paris in 1909. His call was picked up by the Italian artists Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Gino Severini, Luigi Russolo, and others (Adams, 2007).

During its existence, Futurism had several stages of development. However, the first stage was interrupted by the First World War. Since the beginning of the First World War in 1914, which the Futurists called ‘hygiene of the world’, the movement gradually faded. Just before the war, the Italian Futurism artists united in the 1910s, and they included poets, writers, and architects who were passionate in the search for imagery of the new century in the purely artistic as well as social and ideological spheres. Futurism dared to announce the exhaustion of all of the Italian and European culture rather categorically. It became the herald of a new system of life values ​​- ideological, moral, aesthetic, religious, social, and even linguistic ones. During World War I, such artists and futurists as Boccioni Santelia and Marinetti himself, who participated in the formation of battalions of volunteers, were killed (Adams, 2007). Therefore, the First World War brought many losses and dilapidation of the movement of Futurism in art.

Critical Analysis on Joseph Stella’s “Battle of Lights”

Joseph Stella was one of many Italian artists and those of Italian origin who had become famous in the Futurism sphere. Joseph Stella was an American artist of Italian origin. He worked the sphere of Futurism and abstract art and he was inspired by the era of industrial images. One of his most prominent works is “Battle of Lights”. The dynamism of the artwork is obvious. Stella used many colors and geometrical figures to create abstract art. Some of the colors are vivid and electric, probably showing the urban atmosphere of the place and its vivacity. The impression from “Battle of Lights” is the same as from the most of the art of the futurism era –  constant movement and presence of idea. Several elements remind of industrial architecture. In the name of the art, Stella’s “Battle of Light” also included “Coney Island”, and the turmoil of colors on canvas represented the crowd in that area.

The Impact of Futurism on Italy during that Period and on the Italian Contemporary Art

As any art, Futurism and its heritage had an immense impact on Italy. The Futurists were strongly influenced by Nietzsche’s ideas of the cult of “superman”, Bergson’s philosophy, asserting that the mind was able to comprehend only all hardened and dead and the rebellious slogans of anarchists (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011). The glorification of strength and heroism is seen in almost all the works of the Italian Futurists. The man of the future, in their view, is “mechanical man with replaceable parts” (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011), the all-powerful but soulless, cynical and cruel. Therefore, Futurism for Italy in the beginning of the 1900s was more than art movement as it represented the outlook of modern people and their desire to change.

In painting and sculpture, Italian Futurism was the forerunner of many subsequent artistic discoveries and trends. For example, in sculpture, Boccioni used a variety of materials such as glass, wood, cardboard, iron, leather, horsehair, clothes, mirrors, light bulbs, and so on, and he became the forerunner of pop art (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011). Aiming in his futuristic sculptures-structures to unite plastic form, color, movement, and sound, Balla anticipated sineticism and later synthetic arts (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011). The Italian Futurists involved or, at least, tried to involve sound in the paintings and sculptures. Artists tried to express the plastic equivalents of sounds, noises and smells in a theater, music and cinema hall, in a public building, at a railway station, in a port, garage, hospital, shop, and so on. To do this, an artist must be a vortex of sensations as well as scenic strength and energy not cold logical intellect. For the Italian Futurists, it was very important to be in direct contact with the public. Artists were present at their exhibitions, shocking others by their appearance and public speeches. For now, modern art has many aspects such as pop art, performances, abstractionism, and so on.


In sum, Italian Futurism in painting was born in 1909. It became the highest point in the development of this process and the extreme expression of the refusal of any appeals to the past and history. Futurism was a radical program based on the idea of ​​breaking with the past. It also threw a challenge to the body of artistic heritage and it was not satisfied with the requirement of the absolute autonomy of art as Symbolists had already developed the theory of art for art’s sake. That is why, not only the history to understand some certain integrity but also the history of art were eliminated. Because the historical view and historical perspective were based on reflection, it was almost logical to assume that the Futurism movement valued movement above constancy, action above reflection, and form above content.

Italian Baroque Art

Baroque is the characteristic of European culture of the 17th-18th centuries, the center of which was Italy. The Baroque style emerged in the late Renaissance, in the end of the 16th – early 17th centuries in the Italian cities of Rome, Mantua, Venice, and Florence (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011). Baroque is considered the beginning of the triumphal march of the Western civilization. Baroque is opposed to classicism and rationalism in its sense, form, impact, and behavior. The purpose of the paper is to analyze the specialties of baroque art, how it developed in Italy, and the impact of baroque art on the Italian culture.

The Context of Baroque Art

The origin of baroque art was connected with the needs of society, specifically aristocracy. The power of culture manifested the adaptation to the new conditions. The church needed to know that its strength and viability were seen by everyone. Since there was no money for the construction of many palazzos, the aristocracy appealed to the art to create the illusion of power and wealth. Thus, the style that could elevate might and wealth became popular. Therefore, in the end of the 16th century, Baroque style emerged and thrived in Italy.

Baroque style was famous of its contrast, tension, dynamic images, affectation, and the desire for greatness and splendor, to reconcile reality and illusion, to the confluence of art (city and palace and park ensembles, opera, religious music, oratorio). At the same time, it was the trend towards the autonomy of individual genres (concerto grosso, sonata, suite in instrumental music) (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008). Ideological foundations of the style developed as the result of a shock – in the 16th century, the crucial events were the Reformation and the teachings of Copernicus (Stokstad, Cothren, & Asher, 2011). The notion in the ancient view of the world as a reasonable and permanent unity, as well as the Renaissance idea of ​​man as a rational creature, had changed drastically. In the words of Pascal, the man began to realize himself as “something in between everything and nothing,” “those who picks up only the appearance of phenomena, but cannot understand neither their beginning nor their end” (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008).

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Baroque art is characterized by dynamic compositions, platitude, and the splendor of forms, aristocracy and extraordinary stories (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008). The most characteristic features of Baroque were showy flamboyance and dynamics. A striking example is the works of Rubens and Caravaggio. For example, Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610) was considered one of the most significant artists among Italian artists of that time (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008). He created a new style of painting in the end of the 16th century. His paintings were dedicated to religious subjects, reminiscent of realistic scenes of modern life to the author, thus creating a contrast of late antiquity and modern times. The heroes were depicted in the dim light, from which light rays snatched expressive gestures of the characters, making contrast on their specificity. In the Italian painting during the Baroque epoch, there developed different genres, but mostly, they were allegories or mythological genre.

Baroque architecture was characterized by spatial scale, fusion, turnover complex, and usually curved shapes. Often, massive colonnades were seen in an abundance of sculpture on the facade and in the interiors. Domes acquired complex forms, and they were often stacked like St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome.

The Impact of Baroque Art on Italy

Baroque art had a huge impact on the world. However, its largest impact was in Italy as it was the place where the development of baroque had peaked. The artists of Baroque art opened new ways of spatial interpretation of the form in its ever-changing dynamics of life, invigorated life position.

Closely associated with monarchy, the aristocracy, and the church, Baroque art was meant to celebrate and promote their power (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008). At the same time, it reflected the new ideas of unity, infinity, and diversity of the world as well as its dramatic complexity and variability of eternal interest in the environment, to the human environment, and the natural elements. Man no longer appeared as the center of the universe but the multi-faceted personality with the complex world of emotions involved in always-changing life and environment conflicts.

The Italian art of the late 16th century was characterized by unnatural and stylistic uncertainty (Wilkins, Schultz, & Linduff, 2008). Caravaggio and Carracci brought back wholeness and expressiveness to the Italian painting. Baroque art helped to create a theatrical effect with better lighting, a false perspective, and spectacular stage scenery. Even now, Italy has many landmarks, breathtaking architecture masterpieces, literature, and paintings from baroque epoch. In modern Italy, people often use the elements of baroque in their interior design, associating it with pomposity and luxury.

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In sum, the emergence of baroque was influenced by two important events of the Middle Ages. Firstly, it was the change of philosophical ideas about the universe and man, associated with the epoch-making scientific discoveries of the time. Secondly, there was a need to hold the power to imitate one’s greatness on the background of material impoverishment. The epoch of Baroque brought a huge heritage of different kinds of art to the world. However, the majority of the masterpieces of that time can be found in Italy. Baroque art was unique in its form and performance. Even now, some aspects of baroque remain in use.

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