Sunday, 10 August 2014

"La Città Nuova": the ContemporAntiquitarian aspiration of an Italian futurist

"La Città nuova": the ContemporAntiquitarian aspiration 
of an Italian futurist

At first, it seems that yours truly had recalled one of the visionaries whom left a ContemporAntiquitarian legacy in the history of architecture. All despite not been realized, artists and architects alike had somehow afford to be like them, and one example is Antonio Sant'Elia.

Antonio Sant’Elia was born in 1888 in the Italian town of Cuomo, Lombardy. A builder by training, he was an Italian visionary architect whom participated in the futurist movement and allegedly wrote its manifesto that invokes his view and aspiration. 

Hiis association with Futurism was forged between 1912 and 1914, as he, influenced by the industrial cities of the United States and the architects Renzo Picasso, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos, he began a series of design drawings for a futurist Città Nuova ("New City") that was conceived as a symbol of a new age. In August 1914, The manifesto, entitled "Futurist Architecture" was published by Sant'Elia, although this is been subject to debate; and in it the author stated that: "the decorative value of Futurist architecture depends solely on the use and original arrangement of raw or bare or violently colored materials", monumental-like with its towering appearance but different from the neo-classical approach that remained during the early 20th century. 
His vision, invoked in his works was for a highly industrialised and mechanized city of the future, which he saw not as a mass of individual buildings but a vast, multi-level, interconnected and integrated urban conurbation designed around the "life" of the city; while his extremely influential designs featured vast monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that embodied the sheer excitement of modern architecture and technology.

Obviously, in today's sense would say it is deemed "science fiction-like" the sketches Sant'Elia had made, for early 20th century had leaned towards the wonders of science just like 19th century towards reason. But as remnants of the past rather oppose the mondernizing approach of architects and visionares like him, Sant'Elia, in his Manifesto said:

"The utter antithesis between the modern world and the old is determined by all those things that formerly did not exist. Our lives have been enriched by elements the possibility of whose existence the ancients did not even suspect. Men have identified material contingencies, and revealed spiritual attitudes, whose repercussions are felt in a thousand ways. Principal among these is the formation of a new ideal of beauty that is still obscure and embryonic, but whose fascination is already felt even by the masses. We have lost our predilection for the monumental, the heavy, the static, and we have enriched our sensibility with a taste for the light, the practical, the ephemeral and the swift. We no longer feel ourselves to be the men of the cathedrals, the palaces and the podiums. We are the men of the great hotels, the railway stations, the immense streets, colossal ports, covered markets, luminous arcades, straight roads and beneficial demolitions."

However, leaning towards the future also comes a monumental feat but is secondary to the emphasised utility. Towering so to speak but accomodates large number of people like today's condominiums, It may similar to the Rome of the past, but that Rome Sant'Elia would thinking of wasn't the Rome of the cobblestone-roads and ancient monuments, but a Rome wherein roads  being  paved for the diesel-driven automobiles, of houses that emphasises comfortability rather than mere beauty, a society that emphasises speed and accuracy no matter how simple or to those who slander: "devoid of anything what they accustomed to."

And like most artists this person had admired to and tried to emulate, his works meant a utopia that continues to be conceptualize in this continuing past. The edifices being shown not just provide inspiration to some, if not most architects, artists, even writers thinking about a 'coming' that is a realization, but a desire to fulfill of what people had yearned for: conducive living, social justice, co-prosperity and co-equality amongst the sexes, and a rebirth of dignity that has been ruined by slander and self-contemplation.

Once the late Italian dictator Mussolini had incorporated futurism in his Fascist goal like Hitler with his classicism for his German Reich. Stalin did afford to incorporate some futurism and classicism in socialist realism in pursuit of creating a Proletarian paradise, as evidenced by the towering edifices in Moscow as well as the bridges that are made of steel in river Moskva; admittingly speaking, those times were those of passionate future-leaning idealists trying to turn intangible ideas into tangible matter,  of what was fictitious into something that as remarkably realised. Actually, leaders during those times  often use architecture in forging a society different from the usual to invoke the aspirations of the people such as earlier being stated. Mussolini's Italy had futurists tending to forge ideas, designs, communities alike to invoke a new Italy although his aspirations are too focused on the grandeur of Imperial Rome (hence he also insist the Roman-era style as well); Stalin's Soviet Russia did the same of forging ideas, designs, communities in pursuit of surpassing capitalist west and to build a socialist, proletarian paradise oppressed peoples looked upon it as an inspiration. 

Back to Sant'Elia and his works, it is undeniable the growth, progression of things in this continuing past so is the aspirations both from the individual and the community. And It may take years to realize the blueprints he had drawn if few people will dare to make it as a reaction from the prevailing ones that is, disorder and unaspiring, made merely to sell than made to instill the wonder of the future in this continuing past. 

ContemporAntiquitarian indeed what Sant'Elia had made, that in his "Città Nuova" it also showed a bridge between the past and present, the ancient and the contemporary, it may not been traditional-like and classical, but what was drawn showed a semblance of ancient monumentalism and contemporary utility. It may not been adorned by motifs what classicists, traditionalists tend to insist, but it invokes aspiration citing those whom had yearned for a world that would say as just.

And, although futurists may deny what this writeup being stated such as bridging the present and the past for the future, Futurism is itself became a legacy of a past continuing citing numerous works such as painting to architecture. Architects like Sant'Elia had the idea of reshaping man's minds though their  aspirations such as towards the future. 

Again, they are forging back then a new design using existing tools, teachings, and imaginations to counter the prevailing ones; they simply wanted the light, practical, and swift especially after how then-modern machineries had  brought them a semblance of ease in their labour: they wanted to maximize these so as to realize what they wanted to see.

After all, Futurism, from the word "future" is a reaction from classicism that leans much towards the past, but as a ContemporAntiquitarian, again, the future trying to be convieve is tempered with the aspirations of long ago, as speed will always be tempered with efficiency, and quantity of things created is tempered with the quality of things being made out of.