Biography

The Thirties

The Return to Real Life

Depero, after two years of hard battles, in October 1930, returned to Italy but he was no longer the same artist. The American experience had deeply changed him, taking away the vitalistic impulse towards the future that had always supported him. New York, with its high glittering skyscrapers, but also with its sad, crumbling suburbs; New York, with its ostentatious wealth, but also with its ill-concealed misery, had shown him the true face of the technological future  the Italian futurists had always dreamed about. And this future was not identified in that solar, efficient and fraternal city seen by Sant’ Elia, but in a chaotic and teeming melting pot of races and troubled, panting, insensitive, distrustful, violent and frightened people. Not a future for the wellfare of man but, perhaps, his technological prison.

Depero, after two years of hard battles, in October 1930, returned to Italy but he was no longer the same artist. The American experience had deeply changed him, taking away the vitalistic impulse towards the future that had always supported him. New York, with its high glittering skyscrapers, but also with its sad, crumbling suburbs; New York, with its ostentatious wealth, but also with its ill-concealed misery, had shown him the true face of the technological future  the Italian futurists had always dreamed about. And this future was not identified in that solar, efficient and fraternal city seen by Sant’ Elia, but in a chaotic and teeming melting pot of races and troubled, panting, insensitive, distrustful, violent and frightened people. Not a future for the wellfare of man but, perhaps, his technological prison.

Back then in his mountains, in Trentino, Depero found again contact with reality, with concreteness, with the values of the country and  family. His return to painting, to art, was anyway affected by this emotional state, and also by the fall of his  creative impulse probably due to the fact that he had “verified” that future so longed for. Now, there was nothing left to imagine, and nothing to dream about. His innate cheerfulness seemed somehow cooled down: and his palette, inevitably changed. While he was trying his fortune in America his name appeared among the subscribers of the manifesto Futurist Aeropainting: he was included ,”ex officio”by the same Marinetti. Until then Depero together with Prampolini, had been the spearhead of the futurist movement, his American triumphs, often relaunched by the national press, had made him very popular and not only among the futurists. For this reason, after his return, he exhibited in 1931 with the futurist group at the  first Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte in Rome, where Marinetti presented him with a certain emphasis, precisely as the “triumph of Futurism in America”.

In the same year he published Numero Unico Futurista Campari 1931 (Unique Futurist Campari Number 1931) which stands as one of the first books of “advertising poetry”, assisted in this by the writer Giovanni Gerbino. In the years 1931-32 he collaborated with several articles in various newspapers: “La Sera”, “Italian Illustration” and “Secolo Illustrato”, in Milan. Then at the XVIII Biennale of Venice in 1932 he presented a nucleus of works of great pictorial quality but of prevailing monochromatic, cold, lunar and alienating tones: in any case, quite far  from aeropaintings. Then, gradually, the themes changed too: from galloping horses and metropolitan robots,  on to alpine farmhouses, rustic drinkers, sculptural mountain animals. The activity of advertising graphic was considerably slowed down and he devoted to writing: theory and prose.

Back then in his mountains, in Trentino, Depero found again contact with reality, with concreteness, with the values of the country and  family. His return to painting, to art, was anyway affected by this emotional state, and also by the fall of his  creative impulse probably due to the fact that he had “verified” that future so longed for. Now, there was nothing left to imagine, and nothing to dream about. His innate cheerfulness seemed somehow cooled down: and his palette, inevitably changed. While he was trying his fortune in America his name appeared among the subscribers of the manifesto Futurist Aeropainting: he was included ,”ex officio”by the same Marinetti. Until then Depero together with Prampolini, had been the spearhead of the futurist movement, his American triumphs, often relaunched by the national press, had made him very popular and not only among the futurists. For this reason, after his return, he exhibited in 1931 with the futurist group at the  first Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte in Rome, where Marinetti presented him with a certain emphasis, precisely as the “triumph of Futurism in America”.

In the same year he published Numero Unico Futurista Campari 1931 (Unique Futurist Campari Number 1931) which stands as one of the first books of “advertising poetry”, assisted in this by the writer Giovanni Gerbino. In the years 1931-32 he collaborated with several articles in various newspapers: “La Sera”, “Italian Illustration” and “Secolo Illustrato”, in Milan. Then at the XVIII Biennale of Venice in 1932 he presented a nucleus of works of great pictorial quality but of prevailing monochromatic, cold, lunar and alienating tones: in any case, quite far  from aeropaintings. Then, gradually, the themes changed too: from galloping horses and metropolitan robots,  on to alpine farmhouses, rustic drinkers, sculptural mountain animals. The activity of advertising graphic was considerably slowed down and he devoted to writing: theory and prose.

In 1933 he published some issues of a beautiful magazine, “Dinamo Futurista” (Futurist dynamo), then he composed and published Liriche Radiofoniche (Radiolyrics)(1934) which collected a series of compositions, mostly inspired by the American experience and conceived for radio reading. Finally , he announced several times a book-sound on  New York sounds , New York Film vissuto  (New York, A live Film), which he wrote in large part but it was never completed. It was the last “long wave” of the American experience that remained in his memory of vision for many  years.

By now his connections with militant Futurism (to which he would never stop proclaiming himself loyal) became increasingly common. He found himself, in spite of his principles, to act as the “master” of a whole host of young Venetian Futurists who periodically climbed up to Rovereto to pay him homage: they represented the so-called “third generation”, and made him consider his futurist beginnings even farther.

Towards the second half of the decade his isolation from the national context became more and more pronounced, until, also for alimentary reasons (besides his naive, but sincere, conviction) he began to work for corporations and machineries of the regime.

In 1933 he published some issues of a beautiful magazine, “Dinamo Futurista” (Futurist dynamo), then he composed and published Liriche Radiofoniche (Radiolyrics)(1934) which collected a series of compositions, mostly inspired by the American experience and conceived for radio reading. Finally , he announced several times a book-sound on  New York sounds , New York Film vissuto  (New York, A live Film), which he wrote in large part but it was never completed. It was the last “long wave” of the American experience that remained in his memory of vision for many  years.

By now his connections with militant Futurism (to which he would never stop proclaiming himself loyal) became increasingly common. He found himself, in spite of his principles, to act as the “master” of a whole host of young Venetian Futurists who periodically climbed up to Rovereto to pay him homage: they represented the so-called “third generation”, and made him consider his futurist beginnings even farther.

Towards the second half of the decade his isolation from the national context became more and more pronounced, until, also for alimentary reasons (besides his naive, but sincere, conviction) he began to work for corporations and machineries of the regime.

Previous Chapter

A Futurist in New York

GO

Next Chapter

The Forties and the Fifties:

Towards his Museum

GO