Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944)

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, in full Filippo Tommaso Emilio Marinetti, Italian-French prose writer, novelist, poet, and dramatist, the ideological founder of Futurism, an early 20th-century literary, artistic, and political movement.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Zang Tumb Tuuum, 1912

Image source:

Founder of the Futurist movement, he was associated with the utopian and Symbolist artistic and literary community Abbaye de Créteil between 1907 and 1908. Marinetti is best known as the author of the first Futurist Manifesto, which was written and published in 1909, and also of the Fascist Manifesto.

Childhood and education

Emilio Angelo Carlo Marinetti spent the first years of his life in Alexandria, Egypt, where his father (Enrico Marinetti) and his mother (Amalia Grolli) lived together more uxorio (as if married). Enrico was a lawyer from Piedmont, and his mother was the daughter of a literary professor from Milan. They had come to Egypt in 1865, at the invitation of Khedive Isma’il Pasha, to act as legal advisers for foreign companies that were taking part in his modernization program.

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti photographie

Image source:

His love for literature developed during the school years. His mother was an avid reader of poetry, and introduced the young Marinetti to the Italian and European classics. He first studied in Egypt then in Paris, obtaining a baccalauréat degree in 1894 at the Sorbonne, and in Italy, graduating in law at the University of Pavia in 1899. He decided not to be a lawyer but to develop a literary career.

Futurist Manifesto

Futurist Manifesto on Le Figaro, 1909

Futurism had its official beginning with the publication of Marinetti’s “Manifeste de Futurisme” in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro (February 20, 1909). His ideas were quickly adopted in Italy, where the writers Aldo Palazzeschi, Corrado Govoni, and Ardengo Soffici were among his most important disciples.

Marinetti’s manifesto was also endorsed by Futurist painters, who published a manifesto of their own in 1910. Such painters and sculptors as Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini carried out Marinetti’s ideas.

Image source:

What is Futurism?

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, In the Evening, Lying on Her Bed, She Reread the Letter from Her Artilleryman at the Front , 1917

Image source:

Futurism’s idea was to break with nineteenth-century Romanticism and eliminate the past by embracing speed and the modern industrial revolution in all aspects of life, including art, architecture, music, poetry, films, fashion, physics and technology. Not surprisingly, its chosen symbols were the aeroplane, cinema and the telephone and, above all, the automobile. As a movement, Futurism quickly spread to Germany, Russia and the Americas. It rivalled Cubism in its influence on other twentieth-century art movements including Art Deco, Surrealism and Dadaism.

Marinetti and Fascism

Marinetti agitated for Italian involvement in World War I, and once Italy was engaged, promptly volunteered for service. In the fall of 1915 he and several other Futurists who were members of the Lombard Volunteer Cyclists were stationed at Lake Garda, in Trentino province, high in the mountains along the Italo-Austrian border. They endured several weeks of fighting in harsh conditions before the cyclists units, deemed inappropriate for mountain warfare, were disbanded.

Enrico Prompolini, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1924

Image source:

Marinetti spent most of 1916 supporting Italy’s war effort with speeches, journalism, and theatrical work, then returned to military service as a regular army officer in 1917.[12] In May of that year he was seriously wounded while serving with an artillery battalion on the Isonzo front; he returned to service after a long recovery, and participated in the decisive Italian victory at Vittorio Veneto in October 1918.

Info sources: