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View of “Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe,” 2014. Four works by Enrico Prampolini. From left: Sketch for Stage Design of The Merchant of Hearts, ca. 1926–27; Costume for Propeller Dance, 1928; Costume for Football Dance, 1928; Simultaneous Self-Portrait, ca. 1923. Photo: Kris McKay.

“Italian Futurism”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

View of “Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe,” 2014. Four works by Enrico Prampolini. From left: Sketch for Stage Design of The Merchant of Hearts, ca. 1926–27; Costume for Propeller Dance, 1928; Costume for Football Dance, 1928; Simultaneous Self-Portrait, ca. 1923. Photo: Kris McKay.

FROM THE FRONT PAGE of Paris’s Le Figaro in February 1909, the “Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” heralded not only a new cultural movement but, in the same hectoring breath, its own proleptic obsolescence. “When we are forty, others who are younger and stronger will throw us into the wastebasket, like useless manuscripts . . . !” So declared the Futurist poet and impresario F. T. Marinetti, hurling his now-famous paeans to youth, speed, and the sovereignty of the machine. He vowed to demolish celebrated monuments, artworks, and academies—those past glories to which Italy’s cultural present remained indentured, given the country’s belated modernization. From its beginnings on the eve of Italy’s pre–World War I colonialist campaign in Libya to its last gasps under the Fascist Republic of Salò in 1943–45, Futurism championed everything from the “destruction of syntax,” to

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