‘Elasticity’ Umberto Boccioini
Museo del Novecento
‘Elasticity’ Umberto Boccioini
Museo del Novecento

It would be a minor miracle to achieve a small percentage of Umberto Boccioni’s creative output in 66 years…. well 67 years to be precise.

“We shall sing the great masses shaken with work, pleasure, or rebellion; we shall sing the multicoloured and polyphonic tidal waves of revolution in the modern metropolis.” The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism. Marinetti

The influence of Cubism on the Futurist painter Boccioni is apparent in this detail from the painting ‘Elasticity’ (below) and the watercolour study (above). For me, the art world has not moved significantly beyond Cubism in the last 100 years. Cubism established the dissolution of space and time, Futurism added a dynamic context focusing on kinetics.

Once you have decided that the world is multi-faceted and in constant motion, the notion of a fixed viewpoint collapses under the weight of reason and quantum physics. Time waits for no man. Experimental artists, painters, photographers and filmmakers continue to ‘push’ against a wide-open door. The horse has long since bolted.

The Cubists penetrated the illusionistic space of the canvas, and from that moment on, the only way back was a harmless preoccupation with design and a modicum of self-delusion. But why worry, it has kept us all therapeutically occupied ever since.

Statues in Milano, Italy
Statues in Milano, Italy

If you believe access to Art is an essential component of a life well-lived – assuming basic critical needs have been met – then you might decide to live in the Northern city of Milan. Architectural beauty exists on almost every street corner in the city centre of this commercial metropolis, and it is a visual and spiritual delight. When you also factor in the high probability of coming across sculptures of this quality, adorning a facade or the entrance to a doorway, you know you are in a place where life and art coexist and complement each other. It was E. M. Forster who said, ‘Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted’. I think he was on to something.

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Saint Bartholomew (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13) never set foot in Milan but his statue has been the talk of the town for the past four and a half centuries. Just ask Mark Twain. Then again, the tradition of Bartholomew, which purports that he was skinned alive and beheaded in Albanopolis, Armenia (modern-day Turkey), is the stuff of legends. Bartholomew, now the patron saint of tanners, is usually depicted with a large knife and holding his own skin.

In many ways this image reveals the power of compact modern digital cameras to capture detail. When I took this shot of the famous statue of St Bartholomew in the Milan Duomo I was aware of the father and daughter figures to the right of the frame. However, I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of their body language until I edited the image later.