Italian Futurism: Depero exhibition at the Hungarian National Gallery
By Janna Eiserbeck, The Budapest Times, June 21, 2010
Some 100 pictures by the Italian artist Fortunato Depero (1892 to 1960) are on display at the Hungarian National Gallery. Depero was greatly influenced by the founder of the Futurist movement Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The show, which is divided into very different creative phases, begins with pieces from 1914. At that time Depero was strongly drawn to Cubist aesthetics, before later becoming increasingly influenced by Symbolism.
Some of his early works recall the styles of Kandinsky or Miró, particularly in the forms and colours used. That is especially true of “Architectonic Shadow of a Head” from 1914. The Italian artist enjoys playing with perspective in his pictures, creating images that can make your head spin. Skyscrapers are juxtaposed with people, stairs with lifts and light with shadow in “Black Family in the Lift” painted in 1929 in New York.
Beside the large and in some cases brightly coloured works in the first room, visitors will also find a series of smaller drawings from shortly after Depero’s arrival in Rome, where he tried his luck in 1914. “Dynamic of Coffee”, for example, combines many fine ink strokes into a whole. Some of his works give the impression of being instructions for a scientific work, construction project or similar, with notes adorning individual elements. In the first room of the exhibition in particular Depero’s art is highly focused on technology. Ballerinas, for example, dance together with robots in bright colours.
In the second room the focus shifts. In a “back to roots” spirit Depero made farming and animals the subjects of his paintings in the period after 1920. In autumn 1919 Depero opened his workshop-studio under the name Casa d’Arte Futurista Depero in Rovereto. During that time he worked increasingly with other materials and created pictures from textiles such as “Pelicans” from 1932. He also created sculptures from wood and designed decorative items and furniture.
Depero’s graphic design works during the period of his life spent in New York can be found in the final part of the exhibition titled “America, America!” These include covers for the magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair, where he liked working with complementary colours such as yellow and purple. Pictures recalling his earlier works also appear towards the end of the exhibition: powerful oil paintings depicting movements and faces.
Tucked away in an alcove, visitors can also watch a short animation film by Franco Sciannameo. In a separate part of the exhibition titled “The influence of Futurism on Hungarian art of the avant-garde” around 60 pictures by Hungarian artists are shown including János Schadl, Béla Uitz and Béla Kádár.
The exhibition is definitely worth seeing, but visitors may find that they simply switch off at some point because their eyes are overwhelmed by the variety of colours and forms.
Runs until 22 August
Hungarian National Gallery
Szent György tér 2
Ground floor of building C
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm
Tel. (06 20 4397 325)