Giacomo Balla

Giacomo Balla

Giacomo Balla was born in Turin on July 18th 1871.

Initially he was interested in music and took violin lessons as a teenager, but soon afterwards he discovered a fondness for painting and drawing. Thanks to the passion imbued in him by his photographer father, Balla decided to attend Accademia Albertina, where he studied perspective, anatomy and geometric composition. In 1895 Balla left Turin and moved to Rome, where he joined the divisionist movement and began to exhibit regularly at the renowned Amatori e Cultori exhibitions. Here he found a following of students, such as Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni, and become a leading figure in the Roman artistic world. In 1897 he became engaged to Elisa Marcucci, the sister of Duilio Cambellotti’s friend Alessandro, whom he went on to marry.

After the death of Boccioni in 1916, to whom he dedicated il pugno di Boccioni he became the undisputed star of the movement. His ideas are expressed in the Manifesto of Futurist painting as follows, “We Futurists, Balla and Depero, seek to realise this total fusion to reconstruct the universe making it more joyful, namely completely recreating it”. In addition to painting he also began to design furniture, fittings and furnishings as well as sets for Feu D’artifice, a show based on orchestral music written by Igor Stravinsky in 1917. He also participated in the film Vita Futurista (1916) where he filmed alongside Filippo Marinetti. In October 1918 he published Manifesto del colore, where he analyzed the role of colour in avant-garde painting. As part of his relentless adherence to futurism, in 1926, he carved a statue with the inscription at the base ‘I came to give Italy a government.’ The work was delivered directly to Mussolini, who looked upon it with favour. In the nineteen thirties, Balla became the artist par excellence of fascism, earning great critical acclaim. In 1933 he created Marcia su Roma, it seems that this work was commissioned by Mussolini himself. In 1937 Balla wrote a letter to the newspaper Perseo in which he dissociated himself from Futuristic activities. From that moment Balla was shelved by official culture, until the re-evaluation after the war of his works and those of Futurism in general.

He died in Rome on March 1st, 1958 at the age of 87 and is buried there at The Verano Monumental Cemetery.