Gino Severini Visual Synthesis of the Idea: "War" 1914

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 503 The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries

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.
Oil on canvas
36 1/2 x 28 3/4" (92.7 x 73 cm)
Bequest of Sylvia Slifka
Object number
© 2024 Gino Severini / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Painting and Sculpture

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Provenance Research Project

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The artist, Paris
Collection Barbaroux, Milan
Collection Jucker, Milan
Mr. and Mrs. Slifka, New York. By 1957 - 2004
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Sylvia Slifka in memory of Joseph Slifka, 2004

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