Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Giacomo Balla: "Flight of the Swallows"
A flock of swallows swirl and dive outside the artist's window. Balla has recreated their speed and movement by placing them in precise sequence, one after another. He appears to have included the rigidity of the shutters to contrast their motionlessness with the birds' continuous movement.
Balla painted a series of swallow paintings during his visit to Dusseldorf from 1912 to 1913. The picture is a good example of the work of the Italian Futurists, who were primarily concerned with depicting motion as a symbol for the dynamism of the modern world. Balla publicly declared his affiliation to the Futurist movement in March 1910.
With Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carra he developed the notion of depicting movement by presenting the same form over and over again, like the stills from a video tape. From 1913 Balla moved away from this style of painting, and developed a more figurative approach.
Giacomo Balla. b Turin, 1871. d Rome, 1958. Flight of the Swallows. 1913. Tempera on paper. h50.8 x w76.2 cm. h20 x w30. Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY.
Phaidon (2001). The Art Book (pg. 25). New York: Phaidon Press Inc.