Lot Closed

April 3, 05:01 PM GMT


50,000 - 70,000 USD

Lot Details


Photographs from The Bragaglia Collection


1890-1960 and 1893-1962


mounted, 1911

6⅝ by 4¾ in. (16.8 by 12.1 cm.)

Collection of Anton Giulio Bragaglia

By descent to Antonella Bragaglia, the photographer's daughter

By descent through the family 

"Anton Giulio Bragaglia," Bianco e Nero no. 5/6, May-June 1965, illustrated

Geno Pampaloni, I Futuristi Italiani: Immagini, Biografie, Notizie (Florence, 1977), no. 226

Leah Dickerman, Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art, (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2012), pl. 110

Federico Luisetti, “A Futurist Art of the Past: Anton Giulio Bragaglia’s Photodynamism," AmeriQuests 12.1, 2015, illustrated

‘We are certainly not concerned with the aims and characteristics of cinematography and chronophotography. . . We are involved only in the area of movement which produces sensation, the memory of which still palpitates in our awareness. We despise the precise, mechanical, glacial reproduction of reality, and take the utmost care to avoid it. For us this is a harmful and negative element, whereas for cinematography and chronophotography it is the very essence. They in their turn overlook the trajectory, which for us is the essential value.’- Fotodinamismo futurista, 19111

In 1911, Anton Guilio Bragaglia published the first of three editions of Fotodinamismo futurista, a Futurist essay and the first photographic manifesto of the 20th century. At its core was the concept of photodynamism, or the capture of movement within one photographic frame, expressing not just physical movement, but also mood. Un Gesto del Capo (A Gesture of the Head), a portrait of Anton Giulio floating in ghostly ectoplasm, was one of 16 photodynamic images published in the 1913 edition.

To Anton Guilio and his younger brother Arturo, photodynamism was a most apt embodiment of the Futurist theory promoted by Filippo Marinetti (see lot 66), as it incorporated the speed, technology, and kinetic energy that Futurism celebrated. The photographs taken by Anton Giulio and Arturo closely resemble the work of many of their Futurist contemporaries, including Umberto Boccioni and Giacamo Balla.  The Bragaglia brothers believed, however, that photography also had the potential to aid them with their other interests, such as spirit photography, the photography of scent, and even the photography of thought.

The Bragaglias were aware of the pioneers of chronophotography (capturing individual elements of a movement into a single image or series of images). In the late 19th century, Étienne-Jules Marey had attempted to capture movement in one frame but found it impractical because his ultimate goal was primarily mechanical, not artistic. The Bragaglias, however, embraced the aesthetic qualities of the technique, characterized by ghostly trails that traced the trajectory of movement. Lit by multiple, bright lamps, their subjects would start in a fixed position, then shift to a second on cue, rendering a ghostly, luminous movement on film. For the Bragaglias, the unseen became seen with the aid of the camera.

The Bragaglias’ early photodynamic experiments from the 1910s are exceptionally rare and seldom appear at auction. Only one other print of Un Gesto del Capo has been located: in the Gilman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2005.100.246).

1Modernism / modernity, vol. 15, no. 2, 2008 pp. 363-79, translated by Lawrence Rainey