The artist known as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti was an Italian poet unlike many of the avant-garde of the time. At a time of dynamic cultural and industrial change within Europe and much of the world, a division had formed around the merits of technological growth and its relationship to the natural world. Marinetti took the side of the hard right, publishing the Futurist Manifesto on the 5th of February 1909 in La gazzetta dell’Emilia. With its publication came about the start of the Futurist movement, calling for a rejection of the past, and a celebration of speed, machinery, violence, youth and industry. Futurist artists experimented with the fragmentation of form, the collapsing of time and space, the depiction of dynamic motion, and dizzying perspectives. Marinetti, like many other Italian Futurist at the time, wanted a modernization and cultural rejuvenation of Italy, whatever the cost. For Marinetti, war was the perfect solution for a new and powerful Italy, a view that is represented in many of his works, most notably “Zang Tumb Tumb” c.1914. Despite a distinct style in the early Futurist movement, works like this offer a look into the spirit of the futurist movement and Marinetti’s loathing of the old.
As a political writer and poet, Marinettis works emulated the feelings and aggression of his environment. Written just one year before Italy’s entry into the First World War, “Zang Tumb Tumb” acted as a precursor to the violence, a visual and auditory glorification of war. The book is an account of the battle of Adrianopolis (Turkey) in 1912 in which the author volunteered as a Futurist-soldier. Its use of strong visual language (most notably in the cover) sets up an image of battle, set up bold and confident as a solute to the practice. It does so through different typefaces, some hand-designed, of various size. The tuuumb repeated on the cover emulates the sound of battle, ringing and dynamically growing. The title of the work is written skewed and bold along the Tumb, continuing the visual representation of the intensity and chaos of battle. Despite the intensity and movement of the cover, the image of the war is made in a encouraging manner rather than fearful. The onomatopoeias ring with valiance and confidence, seemingly encouraging the act.
“Zang Tumb Tumb” Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1914
Not but one year after the publication of “Zang Tumb Tumb” Italy had joined the war and had begun a movement into fascism and aggression, a reflection of Marinetti’s will. His publication of the manifesto brought about an era that linked up to Italy’s place in the world, inspiring many like Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo, Gino Severini, and Giacomo Balla. Although much of Marinettis credibility and favor ran dry with his support of Mussalini and fascism, his influence of the culture of art in Italy cannot be denied. His vision for Italy would hold strong for many decades until fascism finally ended in Italy.