Poets and Their "Parole in libertą›," (Words in Freedom)
Le Figaro free
(Above) Action, 1915-1916, Pen and Ink 3


Shortly before WWI, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the originator and chief proponent for Futurism, wrote the first Futurist Manifesto declaring the end of art of the past and the beginning of the art of the future (le Futurisme). He exported his new aesthetic that extolled speed, violence, industrialization, and dynamism from Italy to the rest of Europe through lectures and publication of his manifesto.

"According to Marinetti, futurism was born as a direct consequence of a 1908 car crash in which, attempting to avoid two cyclists, he crashed his Bugatti and went flying head over heels into a ditch. The experience led directly to the first futurist manifesto, which achieved an extraordinary coup-de-theâtre when he persuaded the editor of Le Figaro to publish the entire manifesto on the front page, February 20th, 1909." 1

"We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace."



Marinetti wanted more than to free the verse, he wanted to reject the traditional past of book design. "I call for a typographic revolution directed against the idiotic and nauseating concepts of the outdated and conventional book, with its handmade paper and seventeenth century ornamentation of garlands and goddesses, huge initials and mythological vegetation, its missal ribbons and epigraphs and roman numerals. The book must be the Futurist expression of our futurist ideas.. even more: My revolution is directed against what is known as the typographic harmony of the page, which is contrary to the flux and movement of style." 2


His masterpiece work, Zang Tumb, Tuumb first appeared as excerpts in journals between 1912 and 1914, and finally as an artist's book. Marinetti used free verse to express the sensations of artillery assaults on Adrianopoli where he spent time as a correspondent in the Balkan War (1912). He used neither verbs nor adjectives, only nouns scattered about the page, conveying meaning through size, weight and placement—a revolution in style that deconstructed traditional linear writing.




As part of Marinetti's plan to sever ties with the past he urged for the destruction of libraries, museums and schools, and the elimination of the "smelly gangrene of professors, archeologists." Marinetti was a supporter of Mussolini's Fascist regime but was unsuccessful in his bid to make Futurism the state art of Italy.

Above (In the Evening, Lying on Her Bed, She Reread the Letter from Her Artilleryman at the Front) 1919. A letterpress interpretation of a drawn poem.

calligram soffici
Guillaume Apollinaire

Avant-garde poet Guillaume Apollinaire designed Il Pleut in barely legible cascades of letters to evoke the feeling of rain. He referred to his shaped poems as Calligrammes.

Apollinaire was rather pessimistic about the future of typography, convinced that with new technology "typography is reaching a brilliant end to its career, at the dawn of the new means of reproduction that are the cinema and the phonograph."



Futurist painters Ardengo Soffici, (1879-1964) and Carlo Carrà (1881-1966) were influenced by Futurism and Cubism, especially the pasted paper work of Braque and Picasso.
(Above Top) Soffici's Simultaneity and Lyrical Chemistry, 1915, used overlapping covers of the many Futurist publications to convey multiplicity.


(Directly above) Carrà used non-words to mimic sounds in his collage, above, Atmospheric Swirls-A Bursting Shell, 1914. To see a larger image click here.

carra book cover

Carra, Warpainting, 1915, His cover and his Futurist rants.


Depero Fortunato (1892-1960)

Internationally recognized,Futurist Fortunato Depero, commingled art and commercial design. Depero declared that the "Art of the future will have a strong advertising feel."

In 1919 he founded the Casa d'Arte Futurista in Rovereto, where he produced furniture, objects, graphics, posters and tapestries, with his wife Rosetta. The couple spent two years in New York City designing theater sets and numerous magazine covers.

His most notable work, the Bolted Book, (shown above and three pages on right) was a catalog of advertising designs for a printing firm. The 80-page publication is bound with metal bolts—a symbolic linkage between art and industry. Note his use of typography in graphic formations and the integration of type and photography. (The Fortunatos below, Rosetta is holding the Bolted Book, 1930, New York).



The Fortunatas
Wikipedia, Marinetti

Marinetti,Typographic Revolution, 1913

Image source, Art Tattler

Depero images courtesy of Kelly Rakowski, NisN.

Image Source, The Animalarium
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