Futurist artist and author Benedetta
was born on 14 August 1897. Born Benedetta Cappa, she was a central
figure in the Futurist Movement’s later politics and aesthetics, and
perhaps the most important woman Futurist of the 1920s and 1930s. Her
career began in Rome, in the studio of Giacomo Balla. Benedetta was one
of Balla’s many students that became influential members of the Futurist
community. In 1918 Balla introduced her to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti,
founder of the Futurist Movement, whom she would marry in 1926 (not 1923
as is commonly believed), and with whom she would have three children.
Bendetta and Marinetti were close collaborators as well as spouses, and
many developments in later Futurism were due to the significant
influence she had on her husband. She was a devout Waldensian Christian,
and possibly the more committed Fascist of the two, given Marinetti’s
conflicted relationship with the regime. After Marinetti’s death in 1944
it was Benedetta who carried the torch of Futurism, and became the
movement’s biggest advocate until her death in 1977.
worked most frequently in the visually stunning Aeropainting style,
which took the Futurist passion for technology and their interest in
dynamic movement and shifted it up from the the earthbound automobile or
train (two of Futurism’s favorite motifs) into the cockpit of an
airplane. Bendetta’s personal style and color use are highly expressive,
and decorative. In her work, she sought to stimulate the conscious mind
and the bodily senses, to bring them into harmony with the new reality
of the industrial age.
Benedetta is also the source of another significant development in Futurism in this period: the development of Tactilism. The Manifesto del Tattilismo
was published on 11 January 1921 and was signed by Marinetti and
Benedetta. Tactilism was an early foray into art that was based on
tactile sensation; it described an art that was meant to be touched, to
be experienced bodily. She was also one of the several cosignatories of
the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura, published in 1929.
her work as a painter, and her involvement with manifesto writing,
Benedetta was also a skilled author. She published three novels: Le forze umane: romanzo astratto con sintesi grafiche (1924), Viaggio di Gararà: romanzo cosmico per teatro (1931), and Astra e il sottomarino: vita trasognata
(1935). Benedetta’s paintings and novels are some of the best examples
of Futurism’s potential to give women an equal place amongst their male
peers, and the adaptability of the movement’s aesthetics and ideology
for the expression of the female voice.
Benedetta’s skill and importance and to the ongoing work to bring the
woman’s voice in Futurism into its deserved focus, her work was
accorded significant attention in the groundbreaking 2014 Guggenheim
retrospective, Reconstructing the Universe: Futurism 1909-1944.
Indeed, her work crowned the exhibit. The final room at the top of the
Guggenheim’s vortex was hung with her five monumental paintings Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree (Synthesis of Aerial Communications,
1933-34), a work which was commissioned for the new Palermo post
office. The series of paintings depicts various modes of communication
(such as telegraph and radio), and modes of transportation (such as
ocean liners, trains and airplanes).
Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree, 1933-34, oil on canvas. In situ, upper conference room of the Palazzo delle Poste e Telegrafi, Palermo.
Sintesi delle comunicazioni aeree on exhibit at the Guggenheim, New York.
Velocità di motoscafo (Speed of a Motorboat), 1924, oil on canvas.
Benedetta with F.T. Marinetti and their daughters Vittoria, Ala, and Luce, c. 1940
Lo spirito e L’arte, 1930, gouache on paper. Private collection.
Ironia, c.1930, gouache on paper. Private collection.
Portrait of Benedetta, Giacomo Balla, oil on canvas, 1924. Private collection.
Of course! Personally, I love Italy, Italian history and culture. And not just because I’m a mark for Mussolini and Fascism. Italian music, art and cuisine is beyond compare. Spain brings two words to mind: Inquisition and conquistador, lol. I honestly don’t know a great deal in regard to Spanish history and culture, but burning Jews at the stake and conquering the empires of South America automatically makes Spaniards awesome.