This illustrated book is a remarkable collaboration of poet, artist, and artisans. Filippo Marinetti, the poet and theorist who was the driving force behind Futurism from the time of the movement’s emergence in 1909, contributed a selection of his earlier writings, including examples of the radically innovative visual poetry he called “words in freedom” ( parole in libertà). D’Albisola, a second-generation Futurist sculptor and ceramist, designed the page layouts, responding to Marinetti’s texts by highlighting selected phrases in dynamic compositions that combine crisp geometric shapes with sleek modern typefaces in playfully exaggerated sizes. Most extraordinary, however, is that the book is made entirely of tin, with the texts and designs printed on the metal pages via lithography and a cylindrical mechanism with ball bearings used for the binding. To achieve this unprecedented feat, Marinetti and d’Albisola turned to the technicians at Lito-Latta (Litho-Tin), a factory in Savona, Italy, that produced sheet-metal products.
With its industrial construction, the book exemplifies the Futurists’ exaltation of the machine as a symbol of the speed and dynamism of the modern age. As the title indicates, it also embodies their interest in the multisensory experience, including the olfactory (the scent of printing inks) and tactile (the texture of the metal, which brings an awareness of its thermal properties) in addition to the visual and verbal.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)