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Kunsthaus Zürich

Giacomo Balla
‘Velocità d’automobile + luce + rumore’

Painted in 1913, ‘Velocità d’automobile + luce + rumore’ (Automobile Speed + Light + Noise) is one of a series of related compositions from the same year in which Giacomo Balla (1871–1958) sought to capture the fleeting impression of moving automobiles. The work was acquired from the artist in 1951 following the exhibition ‘Futurismo e Pittura Metafisica’ at the Kunsthaus Zürich a year earlier.

Balla, one of the co-founders of Futurism, takes the radically modern, technical and dynamic content of Marinetti’s ‘Futurist Manifesto’ (1909) and transposes it into an appropriate visual idiom. Bearing the influence of photodynamic images, the work sets out to create a kind of total impression that appeals to all the senses simultaneously.

The long, curved lines form a dynamic composition in which successive moments merge into an arrangement of inextricably interwoven segments, with abstract undulations and curves evoking visual and acoustic phenomena.

The complex, largely abstract structure of the picture hints at the representation of a car travelling from right to left. The colours are reduced to white, black and shades of grey, drawing on the dark-light contrasts of black and white photography, while the black also matches the colour of cars at the time.

In ‘Automobile Speed + Light + Noise’, Giacomo Balla expresses his enthusiasm for the automobile as a synonym for modernity and symbol of movement and constant change.

Following an eight-month restoration, the futurist masterpiece returns to display at the Kunsthaus Zürich from 15 November.The restoration was carried out with generous support from Helvetia Insurance.

Giacomo Balla
Velocità d’automobile + luce + rumore, 1913
Automobile Speed + Light + Noise
Distemper on canvas, 87 x 130 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich
Giacomo Balla
Velocità d’automobile + luce + rumore, 1913
Automobile Speed + Light + Noise
Distemper on canvas, 87 x 130 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich