Featured Post

2D to 3D: Artist Room Studies, Jennifer Hawkins Hock

To emphasize a captured moment in the daily life and environment of these artists is my goal ; to spotlight their appreciation for the art f...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Clothing and Color: The Opinionated Early Twentieth Century Italian Futurists.

Because of their strong vocalization of feelings about color, clothing, and hats I have an affinity for the early twentieth century Italian Futurists, although I am an advocate of peace, libraries, and museums - while they were outspokenly pro-violence and anti-anything-historical.

Giacomo Balla practically works himself into a frenzy in his 1900 "Male Futurist Dress: A Manifesto" and "The Antineutral Dress" of 1914, exhorting all ears to open their eyes to the superlatives of asymmetry in clothing.

Futurists, according to Balla, wanted to "abolish" striped, checked, and dotted clothes and felt that harmonious hues weakened the nerves and slowed the populace.

I'm fondest of Giacomo Balla when he waxes eloquent over color.  He categorizes gray as a "humiliating" color.  Balla wants to see fabrics that are "joyful", "iridescent", "illuminating", "enthusiastic", and "phosphorescent" - produced in "muscular", "strong-willed", "Violent, aggressive, imperative, and impetuous" color.

And now, best of all, listen to Giacomo Balla's list of colors he'd like to see in clothing:  "...wildly violet, very, very, very, very red" (yes, four veries)... but, here's the climax - "300,000 times green" (!), "20,000 times blue", (he starts to calm down a bit), "yellow, oraaange, scaaaaaarlet".  Yes, he really does spell orange with three letters "a" and scarlet with six letters "a".  Nearly, the same - but not quite, he restates his list:  "very vivid violets, the bloodred, the intense turqoise, the greenest of greens, vivid yellows, very colored oranges, and vermilions."

I thought there was not a soul on earth who could become more enraptured with the color spectrum than myself, but I was mistaken... because in Balla - I have met my superior.  In writing, he seems to roll in the throes of color passion.

Then there's "The Futurist Manifesto of the Italian Hat", written in 1933 by F. T. Marinetti, Francesco Monarchi, Enrico Prampolini, and Mino Somenzi - which paints a derogatory picture of the Italian squares, particularly in August - when, according to these fellows: " ...the black and gray hats of the passersby float sadly like excrement".  Harsh, I know, but they end on a positive note:  "Color! We need color to compete with the Italian sun."

And here Marinetti, Monarchi, Prampolini, and Somenzi present their proposal for a Futurist hat that will illuminate, signal to, defend and take care of man - as well as "speed him up, cheer him up, etc."
They actually compose a 20-item list of the types of hats to serve all these purposes:

  • Speedy hat (for daily use)
  • Night hat (for evening)
  • Sumptuous hat (for parading)
  • Aerial-sportive hat
  • Sun hat
  • Rain hat
  • Mountaineering hat
  • Marine hat
  • Defensive hat
  • Poetic hat
  • Publicity hat
  • Simultaneous hat
  • Plastic hat
  • Tactile hat
  • Light-signaling hat
  • Phonohat
  • Radio-telephone hat
  • Therapeutic hat (resin, camphor, menthol, circle moderating the cosmic rays)
  • Auto-greeting hat (using a system of infrared rays) 
The twentieth hat they called for would ideally be capable of "genializing" their critics.

In many ways the Futurists were prescient - describing a desire for clothing that sounds much like modern fitnesswear.  Given the opportunity to see today's phone and music head-gear, I think they'd feel they were witnessing the materialization of the "radio-telephone hat" or "phonohat".

Spirited and imaginative, the Italian Futurismos certainly thought "out of the box".

Giacomo Balla's "Male Futurist Dress: A Manifesto", and "The Antineutral Dress" - and "The Futurist Manifesto of the Italian Hat", by F. T. Marinetti, Francesco Monarchi, Enrico Prampolini, and Mino Somenzi appear in Radu Stern's Against Fashion: Clothing as Art, 1850-1930. (2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology).