This groundbreaking display will enable modern audiences to see Umberto Boccioni’s lost masterpieces for the very first time.
The destruction in 1927 of a number of plaster and mixed-media sculptures by the Futurist artist Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was a tragic loss for avant-garde art. Of the many groundbreaking sculptures he created between c1913 and 1915, only a handful remain in existence today. Now, using a combination of vintage photographic material and cutting-edge 3D printing techniques, digital artists Matt Smith and Anders Rådén have recreated four of Boccioni’s destroyed works: a volumetric study of a human face titled Empty and Full Abstracts of a Head, and three of the artist’s iconic striding figures.
Boccioni’s best-known three-dimensional work is Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. It is one of the most instantly recognisable of all modernist sculptures, it appears on the Italian 20c coin. Dating from 1913, the work represents an aerodynamic figure – part man, part machine – racing energetically towards the brave new world envisioned by the Futurist movement.
It was preceded by three sculptures on the same theme: Synthesis of Human Dynamism, Speeding Muscles and Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement. Until now, all that remained of these earlier works were a number of photographs taken in Boccioni’s studio and at three exhibitions around the world from 1913 to 1917. Careful study and comparison of these images has now enabled the creation of highly accurate 3D reconstructions of the original works, which were entrusted to a sculptor named Piero da Verona following the artist’s death, who subsequently disposed of them.