Storia dell’Arte 136, Settembre – Dicembre 2013
Steven J. Cody
Umberto Boccioni’s The City Rises: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future
This paper seeks to reinsert Boccioni’s philosophical ambitions into the discourse surrounding the genesis of Futurist art in Italy, and to better position The City Rises within the landscape of early modernist thought. I argue, somewhat against the received wisdom concerning this painter, that Boccioni’s The City Rises not only stems from the theoretical exchanges that were so important to the formation of Futurist art in and around 1910; it also engages the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most important critics of the modern condition. Boccioni’s stylistic decisions respond—deeply but not altogether systematically—to Nietzsche’s theory of will to power, to his violent interrogations of established ideals, as well as to the philosopher’s own aphoristic style of writing. My analysis, then, throws into sharper relief the intellectual forces motivating one of the early twentieth century’s most accomplished painters by investigating one of the more sophisticated, if neglected, intersections of modernist art and philosophy.