Acquired from the above by the present owner
In 1912, Balla had embarked on a series of motion studies – a dog walking on a leash, a girl running on a balcony, the rhythms of a violinist’s hand – that captured a rapid succession of shots on a single canvas. N. 3 degli archivi del futurismo is similarly formed of a sequential reiteration of gloved-arms and booted-legs in an implied leftward motion. Despite its overall abstract quality, the objects that make up N. 3 degli archivi del futurismo are strictly figurative: we are shown a set of boots, gloved-arms, and a wheel firmly attached to a seemingly wooden stick. This central wheel further accentuates the overall kinetic energy of the composition, and forms a key symbolic element in this unique representation of motion.
Like Balla’s work from the early 1910s, N. 3 degli archivi del futurismo is reminiscent of Etienne Jules Marey’s chronophotography, a predecessor of cinematography. In 1883, Marey completed the first fixed-plate chronophotograph camera that produced sequential images on one plate. The camera required the subjects to wear white or be strongly lit during their movement in front of a black background. This monochromatic aspect of Marey’s work is one that is maintained in Schifano’s N. 3 degli archivi del futurismo. Albeit decorated with a few areas of orange, the painting is primarily designed in black, white, and grey. As a result, the composition feels like the result of a motion study, where one is truly reminded of the origins of cinema and the sequential recordings of movement.
At once iconic of the artist's distinct casual brushstrokes and evocative of the very high point of the Roman post-war avant-garde, N. 3 degli archivi del futurismo is a true masterpiece of its time.
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