RADIUM AGE ART (1913)

By: Joshua Glenn
May 14, 2024

Luigi Russolo’s “Dynamism of a Car” (1913)

A series of notes regarding proto sf-adjacent artwork created during the sf genre’s emergent Radium Age (1900–1935). Very much a work-in-progress. Curation and categorization by Josh Glenn, whose notes are rough-and-ready — and in some cases, no doubt, improperly attributed. Also see these series: RADIUM AGE TIMELINE and RADIUM AGE POETRY.

RADIUM AGE ART: 1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903 | 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | 1934 | 1935.


1913


The year 1913, in my periodization scheme, marks the end of the cultural decade known as the “Nineteen-Aughts.” Of course there are no hard stops and starts in culture, so it’s more accurate to describe 1913 (and 1914) as cusp years during which the Aughts end and the Nineteen-Teens begin.

“For me, the province of art and the province of nature … became more and more widely separated, until I was able to experience both as completely independent realms. This occurred to the full extent only this year.” — Kandinsky, in 1913

Shattuck claims the climax of the Banquet Years (heady era between Symbolism and High Modernism) came in 1913 — Vorticism breaks out in London, the Armory Show scandal in New York, Apollinaire’s Alcoöls, etc.

1913: Apollinaire’s Les Peintres cubistes. Méditations esthétiques. Written between 1905–1912, published in 1913. The third chapter (adapted from a 1912 article, itself adapted from a 1911 lecture) is the best-known early critical statement linking Cubism to notions of the Fourth Dimension.

A list written in 1912 by Pablo Picasso of European artists he felt should be included in the 1913 Armory Show.

The 1913 Armory Show was the first large exhibition of modern art in America.

1913 Armory Show postcard featuring Brâncuși’s “Portrait of Mlle Pogany”

In Munich, Hugo Ball charged with obscenity for his violent poem “Der Henker”; he and avant-garde theatrical performer Emmy Hennings are drawn into expressionist circles; Ball and Kandinsky plan an experimental, multimedia theater in Munich — at one planning meeting for which Ball befriends Richard Huelsenbeck.

By 1913 Duchamp leaves behind the organic world of x rays for the realms of geometry, science, and the machine.

Kandinsky producing his first unequivocally non-representational artwork, including Untitled (Study for Composition VII, first abstraction), around this time.

Malevich — under the influence of P D. Ouspensky, as well as the poet Velimir Khlebnikov — founds Suprematism, an art movement focused on the fundamentals of geometry (circles, squares, rectangles), painted in a limited range of colors. The movement’s moniker refers to an abstract art based upon “the supremacy of pure artistic feeling” rather than on visual depiction of objects.

Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov, circa 1916-1917

Rayism named in 1913, by the Russian painter Larionov, who touts his new style as a “synthesis” of Cubism, Futurism, and Orphism.

Picabia stated while in New York, in 1913, that “art is a successful attempt to exteriorize the thought or the inner feeling by projecting on the canvas subjective, emotional, mental states.”

An April 1913 article by the American critic Christian Brinton, titled “Evolution Not Revolution in Art,” attempts to explain European modern art to an American audience. Using the term “Expressionistic” to signify art since Impressionism, Brinton gives considerable attention to both Picasso and Picabia and concludes with the following argument:

There is no phase of activity or facet of nature which should be forbidden the creative artist. The X-ray may quite as legitimately claim his attention as the rainbow, and if he so desire he is equally entitled to renounce the static and devote his energies to the kinetoscopic. If the discoveries of Chevruel [sic] and Rood in the realm of optics proved of substantial assistance to the Impressionists, there is scant reason why those of von [sic] Röntgen or Edison along other lines should be ignored by Expressionist and Futurist […] The point is that they will add nothing [to the accumulated treasury of the ages] unless they keep alive that primal wonder and curiosity concerning the universe, both visible and invisible, which was characteristic of the caveman, and which has proved the mainstay of art throughout successivecenturies.”

[Quoted in Linda Dalrymple Henderson’s “X Rays and the Quest for Invisible Reality in the Art of Kupka, Duchamp, and the Cubists” (Art Journal, 1988). Henderson’s thesis: “We must rediscover the variety of images, concepts, and individuals associated with x rays and radioactivity in order to recognize their reflections in French art and theory. Similarly, only in returning to those sources can one fathom the enormous impact of these invisible rays which clearly established the inadequacy of human sense perception and raised fundamental questions about the nature of matter itself.”]

Cubo-Futurism or Kubo-Futurizm was an art movement, developed within Russian Futurism, that arose in the Russian Empire, c. 1913, defined by its amalgamation of the artistic elements found in Italian Futurism and French Analytical Cubism.

Note that Boccioni’s Futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913) would be mentioned in Edward Shanks’s apocalyptic proto-sf novel The People of the Ruins (1919).

Marcel Proust

Proust’s first installment of A la recherche du temps perdu (which mentions the concept of “un espace à quatre dimensions”)

Husserl’s Phenomenology

US architect and theosophist Claude Bragdon’s A Primer of Higher Space (1913) — another popular explication of theories of the fourth dimension, relying heavily on Hinton and Zöllner — “4-dimensional vision” seems to be essentially X-ray vision. Like Leadbeater’s Clairvoyance (1899), Bragdon connects x-ray-like “astral vision” to four-dimensional sight.

El Lissitzky’s poster for a post-revolutionary production of “Victory Over the Sun”

Victory over the Sun is a Russian Futurist opera that premiered in 1913 in Saint Petersburg. The libretto was contributed by Aleksei Kruchonykh, the music was written by Mikhail Matyushin, the prologue was added by Velimir Khlebnikov, and the stage designer was Kazimir Malevich (who created costumes from simple materials and took advantage of geometric shapes). The plot concerns a group of protagonists who want to destroy reason, by disposing of time and capturing the sun. The stage curtain was a black square. All of which helped Malevich conceive of his art movement Suprematism, which he founded the same year.

Performed in December of 1913 to the St. Petersburg public, this Cubo-Futurist opera was a shocking spectacle for its audience. Its storyline follows the action of the people of the future as they capture the sun, which represents the decadent past. They tear it from the sky and lock it in a concrete box before giving it a funeral, conquering the natural world with technology. The script, written primarily by Alexei Kruchenykh, relied heavily on the use of zaum, a nonsensical language frequently used by the Russian Futurists as a mode of expression that transcended the restrictions of normal speech. The costumes, designed by Kazimir Malevich, transformed actors into stiff, brightly-colored geometric figures against black and white backdrops, some of which bordered on the abstract in their simplicity. The hectic music, written by Mikhail Matiushin, was played on an out-of-tune piano and sung by amateurs.

See: RADIUM AGE: 1913


CATASTROPHE


Speaking of catastrophe, J.D. Beresford’s A World of Women (reissued by the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series) appears in 1913. A plague kills almost every male in England.

Also: H.G. Wells’s The Poison Belt (reissued by the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series) appears in 1913.

Franz Marc’s “Fate of the Animals” (1913)

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Ludwig Meidner’s “Burning City” (1913)

Meidner wrote in his journal in 1913: “The giggles of the city ignite against my skin. I hear eruptions at the base of my skull. The houses near. Their catastrophes explode from their windows, stairways silently collapse. People laugh beneath the ruins.”

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Ludwig Meidner’s “Apocalyptic Landscape” (1913)

From the LACMA website: “Painted a year before the first shot would be fired in World War I, Apocalyptic Landscape is an uncanny premonition of the cataclysm the war would bring. Under a turbulent sky, a city street appears to fracture as the earth quakes and figures run chaotically in the foreground. Though the scene owes much to the dynamism and energetic brushwork characteristic of Italian Futurism that Meidner saw at a Berlin gallery a few months before this painting was completed, it is a decidedly Expressionist work, linking an emotional state with the scene depicted. One of approximately fifteen apocalyptic landscapes Meidner would paint between 1912 and 1916….”

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Ludwig Meidner’s “Apocalyptic Landscape” (1913)

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Giorgio de Chirico’s “The Anxious Journey” (1913)

A journey to nowhere, observed by no one. Reminds me of a poem I read about neutrinos.

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Kandinsky’s “Improvisation. Deluge.” (1913)


COSMIC AWE


Frantisek Kupka’s The First Step (1910 – c.1913).

Kupka, a lifelong spiritualist and a devotee of Theosophy, here gives us a diagram of the heavens and a nonrepresentational, antidirectional image referring to infinity. This painting was a crucial first step in his journey to abstraction. PS: It’s been said this painting may have been influenced by A.P. Sinnett’s diagram of the “planetary chain” in the 1883 book Esoteric Buddhism.


DEHUMANIZATION


Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné’s Symphony Number 1 (1913)


DISENCHANTMENT


John Duncan’s “Saint Bride” (1913)

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Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s “Enduring Ornament” (1913)

From the website Art History Project: “Elsa Endell, kaleidoscopic performance artist and poet is on her way to New York’s city hall for her third marriage, this time to a German Baron named Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven. En route, Elsa spots a rusted iron ring. To Elsa this street trash was a totem of her marriage to be, and in an act marking a new era in the definition of art — Elsa called this found object an artwork.”


FAR-OUT MATHEMATICS


Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Robert Delaunay, Henri le Fauconnier, Fernand Léger and Marie Laurencin’s 1911 Salon des Indépendants show brought the so-called Section d’Or collective to prominence. The Salon de la Section d’Or, held October 1912, was even more notable… and brought Alexander Archipenko, Joseph Csaky, Roger de La Fresnaye, Juan Gris, and Jean Marchand into their circle. František Kupka and Francis Picabia were in the mix, too, along with the Duchamp brothers, who exhibited under the names of Jacques Villon, Marcel Duchamp and Raymond Duchamp-Villon.

Also see: Hélène Oettingen, Alexander Archipenko, Constantin Brâncuși, Joseph Csaky, Alexandra Exter (or Ekster), Marthe Donas, Pierre Dumont, Natalia Goncharova, Jean Lambert-Rucki, André Lhote, Louis Marcoussis, André Mare, Irène Reno, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, Jeanne Rij-Rousseau, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Tobeen.

Roger de La Fresnaye’s “The Conquest of the Air” (1913)

De La Fresnaye presents a geometric world where clouds are spheres and all objects are formed by elementary, Euclidean solids. De La Fresnaye’s mathematical influence can be traced in his 1912–1914 participation in the “Section d’ Or” or “Puteaux group”, a collective of artists that displayed strong belief in the significance of mathematical proportions and especially the golden ratio.

Interesting website about mathematics and culture.

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Jean Metzinger’s “Man with a Pipe” (1913)

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Juan Gris’s “Still Life with Pears” (1913)

An early association with Picasso and Braque led Gris into Cubism. In 1921 Gris will write: “I work with the elements of the intellect, with the imagination. I try to make concrete that which is abstract…”

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Francis Picabia’s “Udnie” (1913)

A founding member with Duchamp of the Section d’Or, Picabia painted Udnie as he was emerging from a short-lived Cubist period. Choreographic in inspiration, it is a remembrance of a ballerina the artist met while crossing the Atlantic in 1913. Also known as “American Girl” or “The Dance.” This painting is influenced by the dynamism of futurism and the “mechanism” of Marcel Duchamp’s works. The abstract forms, in his centrifugal movement, and the metallic colour reflections recall the world of machines.

The painting’s title is possibly an anagram of the name of musicologist Jean d’Udine, who had a theory of sensory correspondences.

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Marie Laurencin’s “The Dance in the Country” (1913)


FOURTH DIMENSION


Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” (1913)

Boccioni’s goal for the work was to depict a “synthetic continuity” of motion instead of an “analytical discontinuity” that he saw in artists like František Kupka and Marcel Duchamp.

Boccioni’s work was in plaster, and was never cast into bronze in his lifetime. Two bronze casts were made in 1931, one of which is displayed at MoMA.

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Aleksandra Ekster’s “City” (1913)

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Olga Rozanova’s “The Factory and the Bridge” (1913)

From 1913 to 1914, Cubo-Futurist ideas appeared in Rozanova’s work, but she appears to have been especially inspired by Futurism. Of all the Russian Cubo-Futurists, Rozanova’s work most closely upholds the ideals of Italian Futurism.

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Umberto Boccioni’s “Dimensional shapes of a horse” (1913)

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Kazimir Malevich’s “The Knife Grinder or Principle of Glittering ” (1912–1913)

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Liubov Popova’s “Composition with Figures” (1913)

Popova’s “The Model” (1913)

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Umberto Boccioni’s “Dynamism of a Soccer Player” (1913)

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Félix Del Marle’s “Bretonnes” (1913)

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Natalia Goncharova’s “The Cyclist” (1913)

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Umberto Boccioni’s “Development of a Bottle in Space” (1913)

From The Met’s website: “In March 1912 Boccioni wrote, ‘These days I am obsessed by sculpture! I believe I have glimpsed a complete renovation of that mummified art.’ A month later he published the ‘Technical Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture,’ and by June 1913 he had produced eleven sculptures, including Development of a Bottle in Space. Rather than delineating the contours of his subject, a bottle, Boccioni integrated the object’s internal and external spatial planes, which appear to unfold and spiral into surrounding space.”

Boccioni first provided a sketch of Development of a Bottle in Space in his manifesto, as an example of a work that deconstructs the three-dimensional space in and around itself. A year later he would produce the work’s recognizable form as a bronze sculpture. Boccioni proclaimed his intention to “open the figure like a window and include it in the milieu in which it lives.”

Rosalind Krauss: “The sculpture dramatizes a conflict between the poverty of information contained in the single view of the object and the totality of the vision that is basic to any serious claim to know it.”

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Jacques Villon’s “Portrait of Marcel Duchamp” (1913)


NEW TECHNOLOGIES


Luigi Russolo’s “Dynamism of a Car” (1913)

The painting’s fragmentation and reassembly of an aerodynamic car into triangles suggest Cubist influences. Horizontally stacked red arrows indicate the direction of the car’s motion. The compression of the arrows on the left also suggests that the car is moving at an extremely high speed.

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Helen Saunders’ “The Rock Driller” (1913)

One of only two female members of the Vorticists’ movement (c. 1914), Saunders’s work was later sidelined. (The exhibit Women in Abstraction, at the Pompidou and Guggenheim Bilbao in 2021, helped correct for this.) This painting predates the Vorticism Manifesto, and reveals that the artist was already interested in depicting technology. However, whereas Wyndham Lewis’s art was almost entirely about machinery, Saunders’s artwork feels more emotional and subjective.

The painting is called either “Rock Drill” or “Driller”; sometimes the amorphous pink figure on the left is interpreted as a female. Some critics see here a confrontation between a soft form (a human) and an aggressive machine that easily destroys rocks.

See Jacob Epstein’s 1913 sculpture “The Rock Drill.”

Saunders’s output during this Vorticist period was said to be substantial, though a 1940 German bomb destroyed most of it.

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Giacomo Balla’s “Shape and Noise of Motorcyclist” (1913)

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Giacomo Balla’s “Velocity Of An Automobile” (1913)


UNKNOWABLE ALIENS


Constantin Brâncuși’s “Madamoiselle Pogany” (1913)

There are several versions of this sculpture. In representing its subject through highly stylized and simplified forms, the work departed significantly from conventional portraiture.

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Jacob Epstein’s 1913 sculpture “The Rock Drill” in its original form.

Epstein, who in 1910 designed the monument for Oscar Wilde’s tomb in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, intended to have this sculpture cast in steel — but he couldn’t afford to. He made the upper figure in plaster instead. The menacing body mounted on the drill appeared to be assembled from machine parts, including a head on a shaft with the only organic feature the foetus within the creature’s open rib-cage. The critic’s response was almost universally hostile and abusive.

The combination of an industrial rock drill and the carved plaster figure makes the artwork an example of a “Readymade” created at the same time as Marcel Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel” (1913).

Originally a positive statement, “Rock Drill” was intended as a celebration of modern machinery and masculine virility. In May 1916, Epstein, apparently mortified at the continuing slaughter of the war, made the decision to break up the sculpture. He removed the drill entirely and reduced the upper figure to a legless one-armed torso, which he had cast in gunmetal. In 1940, however, recalling the horrors of the 1914–18 war in the context of the Second World War, Epstein reinterpreted the sculpture:

My ardour for machinery (short-lived) expended itself upon the purchase of an actual drill, second-hand, and upon it I made and mounted a machine-like robot, visored, menacing, and carrying within itself its progeny, protectively ensconced. Here is the armed sinister figure of to-day and to-morrow. No humanity, only the terrible Frankenstein’s monster we have made ourselves into.

Also see Jessica Dismorr’s 1915 poem “Monologue.”

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Diego Rivera’s “Portrait of Adolfo Best Maugard” (1913)

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Luigi Russolo, Ugo Piatti and the Intonarumori (1913)

Luigi Russolo had a vision for a new kind of music, “where melody and harmony were replaced with scrapes, wails and thundering screams. It was a new, Futurist music, the audible expression of the industrialization and political dissent that rocked Italy after the turn of the century.” He built the Intonarumori, over twenty years — 27 new instruments, a series of acoustic boxes containing mechanics for creating rattles, scratches and roars.

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Richard Teschner’s “Still from Nachtstücke” (1913)


UNSEEN FORCES


August Macke, “Garden on Lake Thun” (1913)

Macke belongs in the circle of Kandinsky and Marc, whom he followed into the Blaue Reiter group. His declared aim was “to dissolve the spatial energies of color.” He shared with Marc and Klee a feeling of identification with life-forces outside the Self, forms that are the expression of mysterious powers. “The senses are the bridge from the incomprehensible to the comprehensible.”

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Robert Delaunay’s “Formes circulaires; lune no. 1” (1913)

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Robert Delaunay’s “Soleil, tour, aéroplane (Sun, Tower, Airplane)” (1913)

Delaunay’s swirling discs form a prism through which viewers can recognize three symbols of late 19th– and early 20th–century modernity — the Eiffel Tower, a biplane, a Ferris wheel. This “Orphic” painting is notable for its energetic lines, shapes, and the warm, bright colors that radiate from a kaleidoscopic sun.

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Marc Chagall’s “Paris through the Window” (1913)

From the Guggenheim website: “After Marc Chagall moved to Paris from Russia in 1910, his paintings quickly came to reflect the latest avant-garde styles. In Paris Through the Window, Chagall’s debt to the Orphic Cubism of his colleague Robert Delaunay is clear in the semitransparent overlapping planes of vivid color in the sky above the city. The Eiffel Tower, which appears in the cityscape, was also a frequent subject in Delaunay’s work. For both artists it served as a metaphor for Paris and perhaps modernity itself. Chagall’s parachutist might also refer to contemporary experience, since the first successful jump occurred in 1912.”

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Picabia’s “”Mechanical Expression Seen Through Our Own Mechanical Expression” (1913)

Picabia evokes x-rays in the watercolor “Mechanical Expression Seen Through Our Own Mechanical Expression.” Beginning with a dancer, he selected a symbolic object — a conflation of a Crookes radiometer and an x-ray tube — which he intended as a representation of her according to functional analogy. This anticipates Surrealist parlor games…

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Francis Picabia’s “La Ville de New York aperçue à travers le corps” (The City of New York Perceived through the Body, 1913).

The painting’s title uses the terminology of x-ray photography to describe its x-ray view of the city.

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Marsden Hartley’s “Berlin Series No. 3” (1913)

Hartley — inspired by Kandinsky’s The Spiritual in Art, Bergson’s theory of the creative role of intuition, William James, esoteric philosophies, etc. — created in 1912–1913 (in Paris) and 1913–1915 (Berlin) a series of lyrical abstractions in which a loosened Cubist structure is scattered with calligraphic lines and occasional mystic symbols. He hoped to create a spiritual art that would suggest the universal and transcend specific meaning. Again — like Saussure.

Immediately prior to and after his Berlin years, Hartley cultivated a style of painting that was moderately figurative. However, the years 1913 to 1915 marked an apogee of abstraction in his career. During these years he developed a completely independent vernacular. His paintings from this period explode off the canvas; they are composed of bright, starkly contrasting colours that directly border one another. The theme around which these works revolve is the First World War. Hartley’s relationship with the Prussian Officer Karl von Freybourg, who died just months after the outbreak of war, led t” Hartley producing such masterworks as “Portrait of a German Officer’ (1914), in which abstract forms and military paraphernalia are densely interwoven into a portrait composed entirely of symbols.

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Wassily Kandinsky’s “Composition VII” (1913)

Hilton Kramer calls Kandinsky’s Composition VII (1913) one of the most beautiful paintings that has ever been created in the name of abstraction.

The main theme, which is an oval form intersected by an irregular rectangle, is perceived like the center surrounded by the vortex of colors and forms. Art historians claim that the Composition VII is a combination of several themes, namely: Resurrection, the Judgment Day, the Flood and the Garden of Eden — all expressed symbolically.

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Piet Mondrian’s “Composition in Blue Gray and Pink” (1913)

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Luigi Russolo’s “House + Light + Sky Movement” (1913)

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Giacomo Balla’s “Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences” (1913)

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Natalia Goncharova’s “Rayonism, Blue-Green Forest” (1911 – 1913)

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Mikhail Larionov, Red Rayonism (1913)

The brainchild of Mikhail Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, Rayonism (sometimes translated as Rayism) developed new ways to express energy and movement. From its conception as a subset of Russian Futurism, Rayonism drew from scientific discoveries — Larionov had most likely read Marie Curie’s Radioactivity and The Discovery of Radium, both recently published in Russia — and theoretical conceptions of the fourth dimension.

The adoption of transparency and fractured objects was influenced by changing understandings of the material world through the discovery of x-rays and radioactivity. The world no longer could be thought of as purely solid and concrete. This, in turn, reinforced fourth-dimensional theories of space and experience as a continuum of our observable universe. The “Rayonist Manifesto” was written in 1912. Although short-lived, Rayonism was a crucial step in the development of Russian abstract art.

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Kandinsky’s Squares with Concentric Circles (1913)

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David Bomberg’s “Ju-Jitsu” ( c. 1913 )

David Bomberg (1890 – 1957) was a British painter, and one of the Whitechapel Boys. Bomberg painted a series of complex geometric compositions combining the influences of cubism and futurism in the years immediately preceding World War I.

Around 1913, Bomberg was interested in both Cubism and Futurism. He wanted to create a new visual language to express his perceptions of the modern industrial city. He wrote: “the new life should find its expression in a new art, which has been stimulated by new perceptions. I want to translate the life of a great city, its motion, its machinery, into an art that shall not be photographic, but expressive.”

Works like this were based on simplified figure drawings. Bomberg superimposed a grid to break up the composition into geometric sections. These were painted different colours, partially obscuring the original subject. Not pure abstraction, then.

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Carlo Carra’s “The Red Horseman” (1913)

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Giacomo Balla’s “Abstract Speed — The Car has Passed” (1913 )

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Giacomo Balla’s “Line of speed” (1913)

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Giacomo Balla’s “Swifts: Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences” (1913)

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Umberto Boccioni’s “Dynamism of a Cyclist” (1913)

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Francis Picabia’s “Force Comique” (1913)

One of four watercolors that Picabia created in the South of France in the Spring of 1914. This group of works was executed following the artist’s return from New York the previous year; Picabia decided to enter four paintings in the now legendary Armory Show of 1913. Immediately after the Armory Show his works were exhibited in Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery ‘291’, where they were enthusiastically received. From a 1913 interview with World Magazine, 1913: “Creative art is not interested in the imitation of objects.”

The painting’s title suggests that Picabia was already moving away from his purist abstract concerns of the previous two years, and towards a Dadaist sensibility that reveled in mockery and badinage.


UTOPIA


Francis Picabia’s “New York as Seen from Across the Body” (1913)

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NOTES ON SUPREMATISM

Malevich — under the influence of P D. Ouspensky, as well as the poet Velimir Khlebnikov — founds Suprematism in 1913.

Suprematist works were intended to represent the concept of a body passing from ordinary three-dimensional space into the fourth dimension. The Russian artists emerging after the turn of the century sought to break away from Cubo-Futurism in search of a new cosmic unity.

Speaking of Khlebnikov, in 1913 he participated in his fellow Russian Futurist poet Aleksei Kruchenykh’s project of developing a non-referential language called Zaum — the purpose being to show that language is indefinite and indeterminate. (In Zaum, “zaum” means “beyonsense.”) The purpose was also to develop a universal language organically, rather than (like Esperanto) artificially. Kruchenykh’s libretto for the Victory over the Sun (see above) is written in Zaum.

Zaum — the idea of a higher perceptual plane, a superconscious state that allows knowledge beyond reason — was adapted from mysticism and Eastern religion.

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MORE RADIUM AGE SCI FI ON HILOBROW: RADIUM AGE SERIES from THE MIT PRESS: In-depth info on each book in the series; a sneak peek at what’s coming in the months ahead; the secret identity of the series’ advisory panel; and more. | RADIUM AGE: TIMELINE: Notes on proto-sf publications and related events from 1900–1935. | RADIUM AGE POETRY: Proto-sf and science-related poetry from 1900–1935. | RADIUM AGE 100: A list (now somewhat outdated) of Josh’s 100 favorite proto-sf novels from the genre’s emergent Radium Age | SISTERS OF THE RADIUM AGE: A resource compiled by Lisa Yaszek.

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Radium Age SF, Sci-Fi