Futurism: Rupture and Tradition

A conference exploring the context in which Futurism emerged, its complex trajectory during the Fascist period, and its legacy among contemporary artists


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Philosophy / Theory
  • Public culture


Christine Poggi, Fabio Finotti


The Mellon Foundation, the Departments of History of Art, Music, and Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania, Slought and the Penn Humanities Forum

Opens to public



25% Formal - 75% Informal

Slought, the Center for Italian Studies, and the History of Art Department at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce "Futurism: Rupture and Tradition," a two-day international conference on Friday, November 21, 9:30am-6:00pm and Saturday, November 22, 9:30-12:00pm.

The conference will explore Futurism in its historical, international and cross-cultural dimension. It will address a range of media, and include papers about the context in which Futurism emerged, its complex trajectory and alliances during the Fascist period, and its legacy among contemporary artists. This event will mark the 100-year anniversary of Marinetti's avant-garde movement by bringing together some of the foremost scholars of Futurism as well as artists/performers associated with the movement. Organized by Christine Poggi and Fabio Finotti.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 9:30am - 5:30pm

9:30 am
Welcoming Remarks

Ann Matter, Associate Dean for Arts and Letters, University of Pennsylvania
Fabio Finotti, Director, Center for Italian Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Christine Poggi, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania

10:00 am
Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Stanford University
Keynote Address: Why Is Speed a Religion-Morality?

10:45 am
Luca Somigli, University of Toronto
The Poet and the Vampire: Re Baldoria and the Crisis of Symbolist Values

11:15 am
Ara H. Merjian, Harvard University
The Future by Design: Balla's Reconstruction of the Universe and the Historical Avant-Gardes

11:45 am -12:00 noon

2:00 pm
Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania

Futurism and the European Revolt Against Reason: 1890-1915

2:30 pm
Christine Poggi, University of Pennsylvania
The Futurist Noise Machine

3:00 pm
Stefania Benini, University of Pennsylvania
Dynamisms, Colors and Dreams in the Writings of Benedetta Cappa Marinetti

4:00 pm
Marion Kant, Senior Lecturer in Theater Arts, University of Pennsylvania

The Fusion of the Mountain and the Shrapnel: The Manifesto of Futurist Dance

4:30 pm
The Fusion of the Mountain and the Shrapnel
Dance Performance with Christina Catanese, Julia Cuccaro. Dramaturgy: Mary Mitchell

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 9:30am - 1:00pm

9:30 am
Maria Elena Versari, Carnegie Mellon University
The Myth of the Temporal Fracture: Futurist Foundations and the Genealogy of the Historical Avant-Garde

10:00 am
Paolo Valesio, Columbia University
The Soft Machine: F. T. Marinetti 'Against' Venice

10:30 am
Fabio Finotti, University of Pennsylvania
Futurism: Words and Numbers

11:15 am
Kevin Platt, University of Pennsylvania
Futurist Temporality

11:45 am
Guido Bartorelli, Universitá di Padova
The Futurist 'Advertising Painting'

12:15 am

Luca Buvoli, Artist, New York City
Scenes from a Post-Utopian Futurism

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Luca Buvoli (born in Italy, 1963, lives in New York) is an artist working with animated film and video, installation, sculpture, drawing, and artist's books. Luca Buvoli's solo shows include the ICA in Philadelphia (2007), the M.I.T. List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (2000), the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2001), the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art (part of Mythopoeia: projects by Matthew Barney, Luca Buvoli, and Matthew Ritchie)(1999), the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2003), and the John Weber Gallery, New York (1995-?97-?99). Group shows include the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa (1997), and Greater New York at PS1, New York (2000). Several new works, part of a large multi-media installation, have recently been shown at the 52nd Venice Biennale, at the entrance of the Arsenale. His animated works have been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004), the Lincoln Center (1998), the ICA in Boston (1997), the ICA in London (1998), and the British Library (2008) among other places. Articles on his works have appeared in The New York Times, Art on Paper, frieze, Art in America, The New Yorker, Flash Art, and others. Luca Buvoli's sculptures are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and other museums and institutions around the world.

A literary critic, poet and narrator, Paolo Valesio was born in Bologna, studied at that university, then moved to the United States where he continued his studies and research at Harvard University, New York University, and Yale University. He taught at the latter institution for a quarter-century, and recently moved to Columbia University where he is currently the Giuseppe Ungaretti Professor in Italian Literature, and Chair of the Department of Italian. Paolo Valesio's areas of teaching and research include Italian literature from the 19th to the 21st century in a comparative context, rhetoric in its connection with literary analysis and with spirituality, and the theory and practice of writing. He founded and directed the journal Yale Italian Poetry (YIP) which is now published at Columbia University by the Department of Italian and the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America with the new title of Italian Poetry Review. The author of numerous critical essays and articles, Valesio has also published five books of criticism, fifteen collections of poetry, two novels, one collection of short stories, and a novella. His drama in verse, Son of Man at Corcovado, has been staged in Italy.

Ara H. Merjian is the Lauro de Bosis Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University for 2008-9, and Assistant Professor of Italian Studies and Art History at New York University. In addition to teaching on the centenary of Italian Futurism, he is currently finishing a book manuscript, Urban Untimely: Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City, which examines de Chirico's early Metaphysical cityscapes in the light of Nietzschean philosophy. A former Fulbright scholar to Italy and a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts of the National Gallery, he received his B.A. from Yale University and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has taught at Berkeley and Stanford Universities, and is a regular critic for Modern Painters, Artforum online, and Frieze.

Maria Elena Versari is Assistant Professor of 19th and 20th-Century Art at the University of Messina, Italy. Her doctoral dissertation, Futurism 1916-1922. Identity, misconceptions, strategies. The international relations and the evolution of Futurism?s identity (Scuola Normale Superiore, 2006) is a historical reconstruction of the strategies of confrontation outlined by Italian Futurism within the context of the European avant-garde. She is author of monographic studies on Constantin Brancusi and on Wassily Kandisnky and she has written several articles devoted to Italian Futurism, Cubism, Fascist aesthetics and architecture. Currently, she is preparing a book on avant-garde internationalism in the 1920s and she is editing a collection of essays on the politics of iconoclasm and conservation in relation totalitarian architecture in the 20th-Century.

Jeffrey T. Schnapp is the founder-director of the Stanford Humanities Lab at Stanford University, where he occupies the Rosina Pierotti chair in French and Italian studies and Comparative Literature. Though primarily anchored in the field of Italian studies, he has played a pioneering role in several areas of transdisciplinary research and led the development of a new wave of digital humanities work. His research interests extend from antiquity to the present, encompassing the material history of literature, the history of 20th century architecture and design, and the cultural history of science and engineering. Trained as a Romance linguist, Schnapp is the author or editor of eighteen books and over one hundred and fifty essays on authors such as Virgil, Dante, Hildegard of Bingen, Petrarch, and Machiavelli, and on topics such as late antique patchwork poetry, dadaist visual poetics, the cultural history of coffee consumption, glass architecture, and the iconography of the pipe in modern art. Among his publications on Futurism is a two-volume critical edition of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's Theater published by Mondadori in 2004. Schnapp is co-editor of the Johns Hopkins University Press quarterly Modernism/modernity, the official journal of the Modernist Studies Association, and received the MSA's 2006 Best Book prize for the edited volume Crowds (Stanford University Press). He is also a well-known guest curator who has collaborated with such institutions as the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Center, the Wolfsonian-FIU, the Triennale di Milano, and the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio.

Guido Bartorelli was born in Padua (Italy) in 1972. He gained his Ph.D. in Art History at the University of Bologna, with the thesis: L'Internazionale del Numero innamorato. Esperienze artistiche degli anni Venti: Secondo Futurismo, Léger e tre presenze statunitensi. He is currently a Researcher of Contemporary Art History at the University of Padua. In the field of Futurism, he is the author of Numeri Innamorati. Sintesi e dinamiche del Secondo Futurismo (Testo & Immagine, Torino, 2001) and the articles Attualità del pittoresco (in "Op. Cit.", vol. 117, Napoli, 2003); La variante dell'elettromorfismo nell'arte delle avanguardie storiche. Un confronto fra gli scritti di Kandinsky e di Boccioni 1910-1914 (in "Arti e artifici. Annuario della Scuola di Specializzazione in Storia dell'Arte dell'Università di Bologna", Bologna, 2005).