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Giacomo Balla

Giacomo Balla

*  1871 Turin
† 1958 Rom

The painter, sculptor, stage designer and designer Giacomo Balla was born in Turin in 1871. The autodidact at first painted landscapes after nature and portraits. The short, unregular brush stroke already showed his closeness to Divisionism. When Balla visited Paris for nine months in 1900, he discovered the existential space of a metropolis on the light-flooded and crowded nightly boulevards. These impressions later influenced his futuristic pictures, in which he used a chrono-photographic analysis taken from photography and the use of artificial light as means of expression. In 1909 the famous thesis on literary futurism by the poet Marinetti was published, in which Balla found his own ideas confirmed. The next year he composed the ‚Manifesto dei pittori futuristi' and the ‚Manifesto tecnico della pittura futurista' together with U. Boccioni, C. Carrà, G. Severini and L. Russolo. His first futuristic picture ‚Bewegungsrhythmus eines Hundes an der Leine' [Movement rhythm of a dog on a leash] (1912) showed how Balla analysed the movement and visualised the various phases of movement by overlapping the single abstract forms. Since 1913 he signed his works ‚Futur Balla'. The chromatic deconstruction of light and the breakdown of moving objects and figures into geometric forms were led up to the borderline to abstraction. Balla also worked in the area of visual arts, designed clothes and produced carpets, vases and lamps. He experimented on objects of cardboard, cloth, tin foil, mirrors and coloured glass and became with these ‚Complessi plastici' a co-founder of abstract sculpting. From c. 1930 on Balla turned away from Futurism and returned in 1937 to a traditional objectivity and to the veristic depiction of his youth's subjects. The artist died in Rome in 1958.