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Giacomo Balla

/Works and biography

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Mercury Passing Before the Sun
(Mercurio transita davanti al sole), 1914
Tempera on paper lined with canvas, 120 x 100 cm
Gianni Mattioli Collection
Long-term loan to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Giacomo Balla, by SIAE 2008


This large painting represents the definitive outcome of several studies Giacomo Balla made following his observation of a partial eclipse of the Sun caused by the planet Mercury, which occurred on November 7, 1914. The eclipse takes place in the upper center of the painting, with a small circle, Mercury, encroaching on a large circle, the Sun. The dazzle of white triangles nearby can be explained as the impact on the naked eye as Balla looked away from his lens. The green cone may also refer to a specific retinal color effect experienced by Balla as he peered down his telescope. Balla was continuing his experiments in conveying the sensations of movement through space with the use of transparent planes, rectilinear and curving forms.

credits: Hangar Design Group