Russian Futurism was an artistic movement in the fields of literature and Visual Arts that hit Russia in the early 20th century. Russian Futurism took its cues from the famous manifesto published by an Italian poet Fillip Marinetti (1876-1944) on the front page of the February 20, 1909, issue of the French daily newspaper Le Figaro. Inspired by this manifesto, a group of Russian poets and artists formally adopted the ideology of Marinetti’s manifesto in December 1912, under the leadership of Ukrainian artist David Burlyuk (1882-1967).
In comparison to its Western counterpart, Russian Futurism is an esoteric and little-known trend. However, it was an enormously momentous movement in Russia, leaving its marks both, in art forms (theatre, graphic art, painting, & poetry) and public life. The Russian Futurists named themselves ‘Budetlyane’ – people of the future.
Notwithstanding the apparent resemblance flanked by Russian and European Futurism, each had its own style, displaying the nation’s local traditions and outlook. One of the distinctive qualities of Russian Futurism was the merger of all probable styles and trends – “everythingism,” as defined by French Futurist poet Ilya Zdanevich(born 1913). The setback of one common approach was not encouraged. They espoused speed, technology, & violence, and was pictured as celebrating the technological, future era and its triumphs over nature. Highly influenced by Cubanism, Russian Futurism even went beyond the techniques of Cubanism.
Most of the Futurist artists also wrote poetry (Velimir Khlebnikov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, David Burlyuk, Alexei Kruchenykh, & Elena Guro) and were musicians too (Nikolai Kulbin, Vladimir Baranoff-RossinÐ~, & Mikhail Matiushin). They mutually understood that with their understanding of Futurism as an art form was determining the man of the future. Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich, Pavel Filonov, Olga Rozanova, Nikolai Kulbin, and Alexandra Exter also paid tribute to Russian Futurism at some junctures of their careers. David Burlyuk, so-called “vicar of Russian Futurism,” stood at the core of this galaxy of Russian futuristic stars. One of the finest examples of Russian Futuristic works is David Burlyuk’s ‘Glass Eye,’ a unique representation of the Futurist view of the world. The exhibition at the Russian Museum consisted of some two hundred works of art – painting, graphic, decorative & applied art, book graphics, archive documents, and sculptures of these artists. Poster of ‘Victory over the Sun’ by El Lissitzky’s and ‘Cyclist’ (1913) by Natalia Goncharova are a couple of other Russian Futurism milestones.
The movement began to decline after the revolution of 1917. Some Futurists died, others emigrated. Although considered extinct, Russian Futurism still powerfully echoes in the modern, popular culture and art of Russia. As David Burlyuk rightly summarized it, “Russian Futurism is not a school, it is a new disposition.”