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Giacomo Balla

Giacomo Balla

(1871 - 1958)
Born: Turin, Italy
Style: Futurism
Famous Works:
  • Walking Girl on a Balcony (1912)
  • Flight of the Swallows (1913)
  • Mercury Passing before the Sun (1914)
A painter and designer, Giacomo Balla was one of the Italian Futurists. As a child, Balla studied music, but his interest in visual art proved stronger, compelling him to begin painting seriously, studying at various academies and exhibiting his work. After studying briefly at the Accademia Albertini di Belle Arti, the Liceo Artistico in Turin, and the University of Turin, Balla moved to Rome in 1895, where he worked as an illustrator, portrait painter and caricaturist. Balla's work began to find an audience, and was exhibited in the Venice Biennale in 1899. In 1903 Balla became acquainted with Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni, two budding futurists who shared Balla's fascination with speed, light, and movement. In 1910 he co-signed the "Manifesto of the Futurist Painters" but would not display with the Futurists until 1913. In the interim, Balla traveled to London and Düsseldorf while continuing to explore dynamism and light through a series of abstract paintings. Along with Severini, Boccioni, and Carlo Carra, Balla pioneered the technique of replicating a single image numerous times to create motion and activity. These artists depicted motion two-dimensionally as if it was a series of film cells superimposed on the canvas. This innovative metaphor for movement eventually became a convention in cartoons. From 1913, Balla focused on abstraction based on observation to depict the dynamism of the modern world, with its blossoming industry and fast-paced life. Indeed this new pace of society was about power, and Balla's paintings were true to depicting motion as a symbol for power. After World War I, while other Futurists abandoned the principles outlined in the manifesto, Balla remained loyal to his vision, and in 1929 he signed the manifesto for Aeropittura, a short-lived movement that spun off of Futurism. In spite of a 1931 shift to a more figurative body of work, Balla is considered one of Futurism's most dynamic and dedicated members.
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