Fortunato Depero, Skyscrapers and Tunnels (Gratticieli e tunnel), 1930

Back to the Futurists

The Guggenheim is a machine for viewing art… and as luck would have it, the swirling, whirling lines of the Italian Futurists coincided nicely with the building’s aspiring spiral. But alas, the happy accident went downhill faster than the sloping floor. It was amazing that Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) outpaced the younger Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944) and his avant garde dilettantes on the speedway of time.

My interest in these vogue rogues was the drawings of utopian visionaries Antonio Sant’Elia and Mario Chiattone. Many of the others I remembered from The Machine exhibit at MoMA back in 1968 and I can tell you the second time around left me feeling that Futurist art is best suited for costume dummies and their manifestoes were as frivolous as the fads of fashion. Their art parroted every contemporary movement of the time in affectations that could be called Kubisim, Tubeism and Dude Descending a Staircase.

There is nothing futurist about these fascists phonies. Railing against museums and libraries without offering alternatives is just plain backward. And as I wondered the meaning of it all, I came across a book in a side gallery off the ramp which had a picture of the group dressed in formal attire.  Suddenly it occurred to me, these guys were a band of brash young gynophobes lacking in sexual prowess. Ah-ha! That explains the guns, cars and violence. It never got much deeper than that.

The Guggenheim is a machine for making money…and they make a lot of it. But the more they make the more they take. Students are gouged $18.00 and the pay-as-you-wish day is now down to two hours, from 5:30 to 7:30 on Saturdays. Get there early because the end of the line may not make it inside before closing. With such riches, why be so petty? Art makes you smart but the machine is not taking any questions…just cash or credit.

The Italian Futurists share the same dislike of museums and libraries as the Guggenheim and other “iconic” art palaces. Guards suck the joy out of enjoyment and they smother any ferment or conversation, no matter how interesting. But children can be loud and run rampant because there is a price on everything past, present and Futurist. Damn the starving artists…full steam ahead.



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