Giacomo Balla

Abstract Speed + Sound


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.

On view

Artist Giacomo Balla
Original Title Velocità astratta + rumore
Date 1913–14
Medium Oil on unvarnished millboard
Dimensions 54.5 x 76.5 cm including artist’s frame
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 31
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

Copy caption

On view

Other artworks