Depero, Futurism and More!


The Futurist movement began with a declamation heard around the world in February of 1909 with the publication of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto. Published in Italy and on the front page of France’s influential newspaper Le Figaro, the manifesto provided the foundation for an artistic, sociological, and philosophical movement that would prove to be one of the most influential of the twentieth century. Embracing ideals of speed, technology and even modern warfare, the Futurists made their mark across every facet of art and design. They practiced a disdain for established ways of making and presenting art, and their goals were as much about destroying old institutions as creating new ones. Some of the more prominent Futurists include Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla, and, of course, Fortunato Depero.

Fortunato Depero

Born in 1892, Fortunato Depero was welcomed into the core of the Futurist movement in 1915, after exhibiting a series of drawings inspired by Boccioni’s sculptures. He was an extremely talented and multifaceted artist, and his works span the realms of painting, sculpture, set and costume design, typography and advertisement.

After releasing Depero-Dinamo Azari in 1927, a book known for being bound with bolts and which showcased his talent for graphic design and advertisement, he moved to New York, becoming the first – and only – Italian Futurist to move to the United States. While in the United States he would design front covers for publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

Depero spent the rest of his life between Italy and New York, working primary in the fields of painting and advertisement. In 1957, three years before his death, he organized the creation of the Galleria Permanente e Museo Depero in Rovereto, Italy – an institution devoted to preserving and displaying his work and that of other Futurists and which today contains over 3000 paintings and drawings, as well as over 7500 manuscripts relevant to Futurism

Depero’s Balli Plastici

In 1917, Fortunato Depero began to conceive a Futurist ballet in which machine-like puppets would replace human actors and dancers. He felt that this would emphasize the Futurist ideals of technology advancing and breaking free of human influence.

A year later, Depero had created a collection of marionettes and set designs. He worked with a variety of composers to arrange both pre-existing and new pieces of music for each act of his show. Balli Plastici was performed eleven times, and though it was considered novel, its reception was lukewarm.

Eventually, the original puppets were destroyed. It wasn’t until 1981 that a revival showing of the ballet required a reconstruction of the puppets according to Depero’s paintings, sketches and photographic evidence. These puppets are now on display at Casa Museo Depero in Rovereto, Italy. There are no records of the 1918 Balli Plastici production itself aside from scant notes in Depero’s own journals.

Promotional Material

Depero was a mastermind and pioneer of modern advertisement, so we took the design of our promotional material as a very serious endeavor. In Depero’s own words: “Self-advertising is not vain, useless and exaggerated expression of megalomania, but rather an essential NECESSITY to let the public quickly get to know your ideas and creations.” Our promotional materials attempt to communicate the playfulness and joviality of Depero’s work surrounding Balli Plastici while at the same time adhering to the conventions introduced by the different formats in which the relevant materials were distributed. In the gallery below you can take a glimpse at our web banner, promotional half-sheet, DVD label, project poster, postcard and event Playbill.

Set pieces – Our Balli Plastici

Depero’s I miei Balli Plastici (literally “my Balli Plastici”) depicts an arrangement of several of the Balli Plastici puppets, as well as some of the set pieces and backdrops that were used for the piece back in 1918. Based on this and other of Depero’s paintings, we created a new collection of set backdrops to include in the reimagining of the puppet ballet. These backdrops, which you can see below, attempt to adapt and modernize Depero’s pieces to the digital age while still keeping the artist’s original vision alive. They represent our Balli Plastici.

User Interface (UI)

We put a lot of effort into making sure our User Interface (UI) design melded well with the general look and feel of our art assets while still remaining highly functional. In this sense, we were faced with the challenge of designing a UI that was both artistically consistent with Depero’s work and intuitive for guests of all ages. The pictures below show how the UI references some of the Futurist ideals, like speed and motion, while also presenting a joyful color palette and a playful style, similar to Depero’s own work. All of these artistic virtues are at the service of usability and, instead of being overpowering, are purposefully designed to enhance the user experience, accentuating the software features in a way that is consistent with the desired experience flow.

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