Giacomo Balla

/Works and biography


Abstract Speed + Sound (Velocità astratta + rumore), 1913–14
Oil on board, 54.5 x 76.5 cm including artist’s frame
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553 PG 31
© Giacomo Balla, by SIAE 2008


In late 1912 to early 1913 Giacomo Balla turned from a depiction of the splintering of light to the exploration of movement and, more specifically, the speed of racing automobiles. This led to an important series of studies in 1913–14. It has been proposed that Abstract Speed + Sound was the central section of a narrative triptych suggesting the alteration of landscape by the passage of a car through the atmosphere. Indications of sky and a single landscape are present in the three paintings; the interpretation of fragmented evocations of the car’s speed varies from panel to panel. This work is distinguished by crisscross motifs, representing sound, and a multiplication of the number of lines and planes. The original frames of all three panels were painted with continuations of the forms and colors of the compositions, implying the overflow of the paintings’ reality into the spectator’s own space.

credits: Hangar Design Group