MoMA
Umberto Boccioni. Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913 (cast 1931)
Umberto Boccioni

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

1913 (cast 1931)
On view
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
43 7/8 x 34 7/8 x 15 3/4" (111.2 x 88.5 x 40 cm)
Credit
Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest
Object number
231.1948

Boccioni, who sought to infuse art with dynamism and energy, exclaimed, "Let us fling open the figure and let it incorporate within itself whatever may surround it." The contours of this marching figure appear to be carved by the forces of wind and speed as it forges ahead. While its wind–swept silhouette is evocative of an ancient statue, the polished metal alludes to the sleek modern machinery beloved by Boccioni and other Futurist artists.

Gallery label from 2006
Additional text

In Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Boccioni puts speed and force into sculptural form. The figure strides forward. Surpassing the limits of the body, its lines ripple outward in curving and streamlined flags, as if molded by the wind of its passing. Boccioni had developed these shapes over two years in paintings, drawings, and sculptures, exacting studies of human musculature. The result is a three-dimensional portrait of a powerful body in action.

In the early twentieth century, the new speed and force of machinery seemed to pour its power into radical social energy. The new technologies and the ideas attached to them would later reveal threatening aspects, but for Futurist artists like Boccioni, they were tremendously exhilarating. Innovative as Boccioni was, he fell short of his own ambition. In 1912, he had attacked the domination of sculpture by "the blind and foolish imitation of formulas inherited from the past," and particularly by "the burdensome weight of Greece." Yet Unique Forms of Continuity in Space bears an underlying resemblance to a classical work over 2,000 years old, the Nike of Samothrace. There, however, speed is encoded in the flowing stone draperies that wash around, and in the wake of, the figure. Here the body itself is reshaped, as if the new conditions of modernity were producing a new man.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999
Provenance information
F.T. Marinetti (1876-1944), Rome, 1931 [1]; by inheritance to Benedetta Marinetti (1897-1977), Rome, 1944; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1948 (Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest).
[1] Cast ordered by F.T. Marinetti from Gaetano Chiurazzi Foundry, Rome in 1931.

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In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource