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Umberto Boccioni

/Works and biography

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Study for The City Rises (Studio per La città che sale), 1910
Oil on cardboard, 33 x 47 cm
Gianni Mattioli Collection
Long-term loan to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice


This is the definitive preparatory study, and the only one executed with oils, for Umberto Boccioni’s masterpiece of the same title which was completed early in 1911 (The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The scene is a building site, during the construction of water reservoirs for cooling the electricity generating plant in Piazza Trento, in the suburbs of Milan, close to Boccioni’s home in Via Adige 23. Workers pull their weight with cart-horses, with huge unicorn-like bridles, tethered by ropes that haul excavated earth.
The City Rises is exemplary of the attempt by Futurist painters to give visible expression to their two manifestos signed earlier in the year. The Futurist component rested primarily in Boccioni’s choice of subject matter, the burgeoning modern industrial city, with smokestacks and suburban popular housing blocks, but consisted also in the tendency of light to dissolve form, thus effecting a fusion of figures and setting that corresponded to Boccioni’s early intuitions of the ideas of Henri Bergson and of the Unanimist poets based in Paris.

credits: Hangar Design Group