This section is from the book "Is It Art? Post-Impressionism. Futurism. Cubism.", by J. Nilsen Laurvik.
"Who can believe in the opaqueness of bodies since our sensibilities have become sharpened and mul tiplied through the obscure manifestations of mediumnity?
"Why do we forget in our creations the double power of our sight with its scope of vision almost equal in power to that of X-rays?
"It will be enough to cite a few of the innumerable examples which prove our statements.
"The sixteen persons around you in a tramcar are by turn and at one and the same time one, ten, four, three, they are motionless yet change places; they come and go, are abruptly devoured by the sun, yet all the time are sitting before us and could serve as symbols of universal vibration. How often, while talking to a friend do we see on his cheek the reflection of the horse passing far off at the top of the street. Our bodies enter the sofa on which we sit and the sofa becomes part of our body. The tramway is engulfed in the house it passes and the houses rush on the tramway and melt with it. The construction of pictures has hitherto been stupidly conventional. The painters have always depicted the objects and persons as being in front of us. Henceforth the spectator will be in the centre of the picture. In all domains of the human spirit a clearsighted, individual inquiry has swept away the obscurities of dogma. So also the life-giving tide of science must free painting from the bonds of academic tradition. We must be born again. Has not science disowned her past in order better to satisfy the material needs of our day? So must art deny her past in order to satisfy our modern intellectual needs.
"To our renewed consciousness man is no longer the centre of universal life. The suffering of a man is as interesting in our eyes as the pain of an electric lamp which suffers with spasmodic starts and shrieks, with the most heart-rending expressions of color. The harmony of the lines and folds of a contemporary costume exercises on our sensibility the same stirring and symbolic power as nudity did to the ancients.
"To understand the beauties of a futurist picture the soul must be purified and the eye delivered from the veil of atavism and culture; go to nature and to museums. When this result is obtained it will be perceived that brown has never circulated beneath our epidermis, that yellow shines in our flesh, that red flashes, and that green, blue and violet dance there with voluptuous and winning graces. How can one still see pink in the human face, when our life doubled by nocturnal life has multiplied our colorists' perceptions? The human face flashes of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet. The pallor of a woman gazing at a jeweler's shop window has rainbow hues more intense that the flashes of the jewels which fascinate her like a lark.
"Our ideas on painting can no longer be whispered, but must be sung and must ring on our canvases like triumphant fanfares. Our eves, accustomed to twilight, will soon be dazzled by the full light of day. Our shadows will be more brilliant than the strongest light of our predecessors, and our pictures beside those in museums will shine as a blinding day compared to a gloomy night. We now conclude that now-a-days there can exist no painting without divisionism. It is not a question of a process which can be learned and applied freely. Divisionism for the modern painter must be inborn complementarism, which we declare to be essential and necessary.
"Our art will probably be accused of decadence or lunacy, but we shall simply answer that, on the contrary, we are primitives with quickened sensibilities, and that our art is spontaneous and powerful."
The futurists proceed to make the following "declaration":
That all forms of imitation must be despised and all forms of originality glorified;
That we must rebel against the tyranny, harmony and good taste, which could easily condemn the works of Rembrandt, Goya, and Rodin;
That art critics are useless or harmful;
That all worn-out subjects must be swept away, in order that we may have scope for the expression of our stormy life of steel, pride, fever, and swiftness;
That the name of madmen with which they try to hamper innovators, shall henceforth be considered a title of honor;
That inborn complimentarism is an absolute necessity in painting as free verse in poetry and polyphony in music;
That universal dynamism must be rendered in painting as a dynamic sensation;
That above all sincerity and purity are required in the portrayal of nature;
That movement and light destroy the materiality of bodies.
"We fight," say the signers of the manifesto.
Against the bituminous colors with which one struggles to obtain the patin of time on modern pictures;
Against superficial and elementary archaism founded on flat uniform tints and which, imitating the linear manner of the Egyptians, reduces painting to an impotent childish and grotesque synthesis;
Against the false avenirism of secessionists and independents, who have installed new academies as traditional as the former ones;
Against nudity in painting as nauseous and tiring as adultery in literature.
"Let us," the Futurists conclude, "explain this last question. There is nothing immoral in our eyes; it is the monotony of nudity that we fight against. It is said subject is nothing, and all depends upon the way of treating it. Granted. We also admit it. But this truth which was objectionable and absolute fifty years ago is no longer so to-day as to nudity, since painters beset by the longing to reproduce on canvas the bodies of their lady loves have transformed exhibitions into fairs of rotten hams! We require during the next ten years the total suppression of nudity in painting!"
And to demonstrate their complete freedom from that petty consistency which is the bugbear of small minds, Marcel Duchamp, one of the most discussed exponents of futurism, though not officially affilliated with the main group, promptly presents us with a "Nude Descending Stairway" which looks for all the world like "an explosion in a shingle yard" as one observer aptly called it when it was shown in New York.