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Giacomo Balla

/Works and biography

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Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences
(Linee andamentali + successioni dinamiche), 1913
Tempera on paper laid on canvas, 49 x 68 cm
Gianni Mattioli Collection
Long-term loan to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
© Giacomo Balla, by SIAE 2008


This study led to one of Giacomo Balla’s most magnificent painting, Swifts: Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences (1913; The Museum of Modern Art, New York). The “paths of movement” in the title probably refer to the flight paths of swifts, while the beating of their wings are referred to as “dynamic sequences.” Balla based his images on the repetition of movements in evolving sequences, and was influenced by the chrono-photography of Etienne-Jules Marey.
Paths of Movement + Dynamic Sequences represents a breakthrough from a rather literal repetition of form, expressed in a choppy pointillist manner, to a language of lines, shading and transparent planes to convey the general sensation of movement. It is likely that Balla knew of similar experimental paintings being carried out the previous year in Paris by Františec Kupka and Marcel Duchamp. An intriguing element peculiar to Futurist concerns is the sense that the swifts are in the foreground; hence the spatial relationship between the artist indoors and the motif outdoors has been inverted, or at least confounded. This rejection of traditional pictorial perspective connects Balla specifically to his friend Umberto Boccioni and to Boccioni’s assimilation of French Cubism.

credits: Hangar Design Group