In August 1914, as World War I broke out, the Futurists planned public demonstrations in support of Italian participation. The group’s aggression plays out in this work, one in Severini’s series of war paintings. Working in Paris (France and Italy were allies) and following the example of French Cubists, who integrated text into their paintings, Severini created an image rife with words and symbols evoking the trappings of modern warfare: the slogans “order of general mobilization” and “effort maximum” (in French) as well as canons, French flags, a propeller, smokestacks, and other signifiers of power. The Futurists were eager to break attachments to the past, and war, they felt, was an opportunity for a historical tabula rasa—a chance to wipe the slate clean then create a new world order.
Gallery label from 2009.