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Fortunato Depero

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Fortunato Depero

( Fondo 1892 - Rovereto 1960 )


    Fortunato Depero

    Fortunato Depero, a native of Fondo in Trentino, went to Rovereto to attend the Royal Elizabethan School. In December 1913 he moved to Rome where he soon met Giuseppe Boccioni, during a visit to his sculpture exhibition at the Galleria Sprovieri. Thanks to Boccioni he also met Giacomo Balla and immediately approached Futurism.

    The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe

    In 1914, he took part in the International Futurist Free Exhibition in Rome and wrote Complessità plastica – Gioco libero futurista – L’essere vivente artificiale (Plastic Complexity – Futurist Free Play – The Artificial Living Being), in which he clarified his aesthetic vision, which he continued in the Manifesto della ricostruzione futurista dell’Universo (Manifesto of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe). The manuscript, signed together with Balla in 1915, is of fundamental importance in the dissemination of a new artistic conception of the world, which also involves everyday objects.

    This defines the so-called Plastic Complex, which stems from a series of related but also different artistic practices: from theatre to dance to painting to applied arts, everything is concentrated towards a principle of synesthesia that acts as a universal glue. Dynamic and geometric lines affect clothes as much as toys, carpets or canvases, all elaborated by the amused genius of Depero, the greatest representative of the second futurism.

    The Magician’s Workshop

    For Gilbert Clavel he created the illustrations for Un istituto per suicidi (An institute for suicides), from which the Balli Plastici (Plastic Dances) came to life. In 1919, he founded the Casa D’Arte Futurista (Futurist Art House) in Rovereto, later also known as the ‘Magician’s Workshop’, a sort of factory run together with his wife Rosetta, which transmitted Depero’s futurist aesthetic to the applied arts and affected every area of daily life.

    Advertising graphics became one of his main commitments, even during his stay in New York in the late 1920s. Brilliant festive colours, mechanical characters starring in plastic dances, multicoloured trajectories with a playful character make up his feverish activity that culminates in art as much as in theatre and in the essentiality of common actions.

    At the 1926 Venice Biennale he presented a series of fifteen works that perfectly reflected his aesthetic ideas, including Guerra-Festa, Animali strani, Pagliacci floreali, L’uomo dai baffi, Velocità moderne, Equilibrista, Pagliacci-Gatti, Bitter Campari.

    At the Exhibition of Thirty-Four Futurist Painters in Milan in 1927, he presented seven works: Scarabeo veneziano (Venetian Beetle), Luci architettoniche di un’osteria (Architectural Lights in a Tavern), Solidità di cavalieri erranti (Solidity of Wandering Knights), Paesaggio al tornio (Landscape at the Lathe), Sbronza costruita (Built-up Drunkenness), Polenta a fuoco duro (Polenta over a Hard Fire) and Squisito al seltz (Exquisite Soda). In the same year, he also published Depero futurista, a catalogue with a highly original cover with bolts, hiding amusing and ingenious graphic and artistic solutions.

    At the one-man show dedicated to him at the Venice Biennale in 1932, he presented almost forty works, summarising a career full of ideas, including Lightning Composer, War Gears, Alpine Radioscopy, Crowd in the Subway, Underground Underground Mechanics, Crowd, Pints, Lights in New York, Speed Nitrite and Babelic Machinism.

    New York, the city that fascinates him and is present in all these works, will host him again in 1947 and will continue to inspire him with its increasing dynamism throughout the 1950s. He died in Rovereto in 1960.

    Elena Lago


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