Last updated
Aeroritratto di Mussolini aviatore, Alfredo Ambrosi, 1930 Alfredo Gauro Ambrosi "Aeroritratto di Mussolini aviatore".jpg
Aeroritratto di Mussolini aviatore, Alfredo Ambrosi, 1930

Aeropittura (Aeropainting) was a major expression of the second generation of Italian Futurism, from 1929 through the early 1940s. The technology and excitement of flight, directly experienced by most aeropainters, [1] offered aeroplanes and aerial landscape as new subject matter.


Aeropainting was varied in subject matter and treatment, including realism (especially in works of propaganda), abstraction, dynamism, quiet Umbrian landscapes, [2] portraits of Benito Mussolini (e.g., Dottori's Portrait of il Duce), devotional religious paintings, and decorative art.


Aeropainting was launched in a manifesto of 1929, Perspectives of Flight, signed by Benedetta Cappa, Fortunato Depero, Gerardo Dottori, Fillìa, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Enrico Prampolini, Mino Somenzi and Guglielmo Sansoni (Tato). The artists stated that "The changing perspectives of flight constitute an absolutely new reality that has nothing in common with the reality traditionally constituted by a terrestrial perspective" and that "Painting from this new reality requires a profound contempt for detail and a need to synthesise and transfigure everything." Art critic / historian Enrico Crispolti identifies three main "positions" in aeropainting: "a vision of cosmic projection, at its most typical in Prampolini's 'cosmic idealism' ... ; a 'reverie' of aerial fantasies sometimes verging on fairy-tale (for example in Dottori ...); and a kind of aeronautical documentarism that comes dizzyingly close to direct celebration of machinery (particularly in Tullio Crali, but also in Tato and Ambrosi)." [3]


Eventually there were over a hundred aeropainters. The most able were Balla, Depero, Prampolini, Dottori and Crali. [4]

Fortunato Depero was the co-author with Balla of The Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, (1915) a radical manifesto for the revolution of everyday life. He practised painting, design, sculpture, graphic art, illustration, interior design, stage design and ceramics. [5] The decorative element comes to the fore in Depero's later painting, e.g. Train Born from the Sun (1924). He applied this approach in theatre design and commercial art - e.g. his unrealised designs for Stravinsky's Chant du Rossignol, (1916) his large tapestry, The Court of the Big Doll (1920) and his many posters.

Enrico Prampolini pursued a programme of abstract and quasi-abstract painting, combined with a career in stage design. His Spatial-Landscape Construction (1919) is quasi-abstract with large flat areas in bold colours, predominantly red, orange, blue and dark green. His Simultaneous Landscape (1922) is totally abstract, with flat colours and no attempt to create perspective. In his Umbrian Landscape (1929), produced in the year of the Aeropainting Manifesto, Prampolini returns to figuration, representing the hills of Umbria. But by 1931 he had adopted "cosmic idealism", a biomorphic abstractionism quite different from the works of the previous decade, for example in Pilot of the Infinite (1931) and Biological Apparition (1940).

Gerardo Dottori made a specifically Futurist contribution to landscape painting, which he frequently shows from an aerial viewpoint. Some of his landscapes appear to be more conventional than Futurist, e.g. his Hillside Landscape (1925). Others are dramatic and lyrical, e.g. The Miracle of Light (1931-2), which employs his characteristic high viewpoint over a schematised landscape with patches of brilliant colour and a non-naturalistic perspective reminiscent of pre-Renaissance painting; over the whole are three rainbows, in non-naturalistic colour. More typically Futurist is his major work, the Velocity Triptych of 1925.

Dottori was one of the principal exponents of Futurist sacred art. His painting of St. Francis Dying at Porziuncola has a strong landscape element and a mystical intent conveyed by distortion, dramatic light and colour.

Mural painting was embraced by the Futurists in the Manifesto of Mural Plasticism at a time when the revival of fresco painting was being debated in Italy. [5] Dottori carried out many mural commissions including the Altro Mondo in Perugia (1927-8) and the hydroport at Ostia (1928). [6]

Tullio Crali, a self-taught painter, was a late adherent to Futurism, not joining until 1929. He is noted for his realistic aeropaintings, which combine "speed, aerial mechanisation and the mechanics of aerial warfare". [1] His earliest aeropaintings represent military planes, Aerial Squadron and Aerial Duel (both 1929), in appearance little different from works by Prampolini or other Futurist painters. In the 1930s, his paintings became realistic, intending to communicate the experience of flight to the viewer. [1] His best-known work, Nose Dive on the City (1939), shows an aerial dive from the pilot's point of view, the buildings below drawn in dizzying perspective. Crali continued to produce aero-themed paintings into the 1980s.

List of artists

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Futurism</span> Artistic and social movement

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy, and to a lesser extent in other countries, in the early 20th century. It emphasized dynamism, speed, technology, youth, violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city. Its key figures included the Italians Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Fortunato Depero, Gino Severini, Giacomo Balla, and Luigi Russolo. Italian Futurism glorified modernity and according to its doctrine, aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past. Important Futurist works included Marinetti's 1909 Manifesto of Futurism, Boccioni's 1913 sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Balla's 1913–1914 painting Abstract Speed + Sound, and Russolo's The Art of Noises (1913).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Umberto Boccioni</span> Italian painter and sculptor (1882–1916)

Umberto Boccioni was an influential Italian painter and sculptor. He helped shape the revolutionary aesthetic of the Futurism movement as one of its principal figures. Despite his short life, his approach to the dynamism of form and the deconstruction of solid mass guided artists long after his death. His works are held by many public art museums, and in 1988 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City organized a major retrospective of 100 pieces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giacomo Balla</span> Italian artist (1871-1958)

Giacomo Balla was an Italian painter, art teacher and poet best known as a key proponent of Futurism. In his paintings he depicted light, movement and speed. He was concerned with expressing movement in his works, but unlike other leading futurists he was not interested in machines or violence with his works tending towards the witty and whimsical.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fortunato Depero</span> Italian painter

Fortunato Depero was an Italian futurist painter, writer, sculptor and graphic designer.

Events from the year 1929 in art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Futurist architecture</span> Early-20th-century Italian architectural style

Futurist architecture is an early-20th century form of architecture born in Italy, characterized by long dynamic lines, suggesting speed, motion, urgency and lyricism: it was a part of Futurism, an artistic movement founded by the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, who produced its first manifesto, the Manifesto of Futurism, in 1909. The movement attracted not only poets, musicians, and artists but also a number of architects. A cult of the Machine Age and even a glorification of war and violence were among the themes of the Futurists. The latter group included the architect Antonio Sant'Elia, who, though building little, translated the futurist vision into an urban form.

Futurist meals comprised a cuisine and style of dining advocated by some members of the Futurist movement, particularly in Italy. These meals were first proposed in Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Luigi Colombo Fillia's Manifesto of Futurist Cooking, published in Turin's Gazzetta del Popolo on December 28, 1930. In 1932, Marinetti and Fillìa expanded upon these concepts with The Futurist Cookbook.

Franco Casavola was a Futurist composer and theorist. He is noted as one of the authors of the Le Sintesi Visive della Musica, a manifesto that proposed the intrinsic visual counterparts of music.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerardo Dottori</span> Italian painter

Gerardo Dottori was an Italian Futurist painter. He signed the Futurist Manifesto of Aeropainting in 1929. He was associated with the city of Perugia most of his life, living in Milan for six months as a student and in Rome from 1926-39. Dottori's' principal output was the representation of landscapes and visions of Umbria, mostly viewed from a great height. Among the most famous of these are Umbrian Spring and Fire in the City, both from the early 1920s; this last one is now housed in the Museo civico di Palazzo della Penna in Perugia, with many of Dottori's other works. His work was part of the art competitions at the 1932 Summer Olympics and the 1936 Summer Olympics.

Tullio Crali was an Italian artist associated with Futurism. A self-taught painter, he was a late adherent to the movement, not joining until 1929. He is noted for realistic paintings that combine "speed, aerial mechanisation and the mechanics of aerial warfare", though in a long career he painted in other styles as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Enrico Prampolini</span> Italian painter

Enrico Prampolini was an Italian Futurist painter, sculptor and scenographer. He assisted in the design of the Exhibition of the Fascist Revolution and was active in Aeropainting.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fillìa</span>

Fillìa was the name adopted by Luigi Colombo, an Italian artist associated with the second generation of Futurism. Aside from painting, his works included interior design, architecture, furniture and decorative objects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Italian modern and contemporary art</span> Art in Italy from the early 20th century onwards

Italian Contemporary art refers to painting and sculpture in Italy from the early 20th century onwards.

Arnaldo Ginna, also known as Arnaldo Ginanni Corradini, was an Italian painter, sculptor and filmmaker. He was born in Ravenna, 7 May 1890; he died in Rome, 26 September 1982.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Benedetta Cappa</span> Italian painter

Benedetta Cappa was an Italian futurist artist who has had retrospectives at the Walker Art Center and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her work fits within the second phase of Italian Futurism.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alessandro Bruschetti</span> Italian painter

Alessandro Bruschetti was an Italian Futurist artist. The second most important Futurist painter from Umbria.

<i>Abstract Speed + Sound</i> Painting by Giacomo Balla

Abstract Speed + Sound is a painting by Italian Futurist painter Giacomo Balla, one of several studies of motion created by the artist in 1913–14. The painting may be the second in a triptych narrating the passage of a racing car through a landscape, beginning with Abstract Speed (1913) and ending with Abstract Speed—The Car Has Passed (1913). The three paintings share indications of a single landscape, and each painting is continued onto its frame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Piero Dorazio</span> Italian painter (1927–2005)

Piero Dorazio was an Italian painter. His work was related to color field painting, lyrical abstraction and other forms of abstract art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Růžena Zátková</span>

Růžena Zátková, also called Rougina Zatkova, was a painter and sculptor who has been regarded as the "only authentic Czech futurist." As a result of her Bohemian heritage and her decade-long residency in Rome, Růžena Zátková became an important artistic link between Russian and Italian Futurism. Zátková is considered one of the pioneers of kinetic art.

Ivo Pannaggi was an Italian painter and architect who was active in the Futurist movement and later associated with the Bauhaus.


  1. 1 2 3 Osborn, Bob, Tullio Crali: the Ultimate Futurist Aeropainter Archived February 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  2. " ... dal realismo esasperato e compiaciuto (in particolare delle opere propagandistiche) alle forme asatratte (come in Dottori: Trittico della velocità), dal dinamismo alle quieti lontane dei paesaggi umbri di Dottori ... ." L'aeropittura futurista
  3. Crispolti, E., "Aeropainting", in Hulten, P., Futurism and Futurisms, Thames and Hudson, 1986, p.413
  4. Tisdall, C. and Bozzola A., Futurism, Thames and Hudson, 1993, p.198
  5. 1 2 Martin, S., Futurism, Taschen, n.d.
  6. Hulten, P., Futurism and Futurisms, Thames and Hudson, 1986, p.468
  7. Da notare il fatto che sebbene Depero avesse sottoscritto il Manifesto dell'Aeropittura futurista nel 1929, non ne condivise del tutto i principi né realizzo opere di questo genere. Fonte: Maurizio Scudiero. Fortunato Depero attraverso il Futurismo. Opere 1913-1958 (catalogo della mostra). Firenze, Galleria Poggiali & Forconi, 1998.
  8. his painting Air and Sea Battle (1939), was highlighted by the New York Times in their notable books of 2013 roundup, in which they mention the book, Art and the Second World War, by Monica Bohm-Duchen