I've always been inspired by Umberto Boccioni's sculpture 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space' made in 1913. In 2015 I had a successful Kickstarter campaign to make a 3D printed re-creation of Boccioni's lost art. The work is called 'Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement' also made in 1913. The photograph above (first panel) was taken before the sculpture was destroyed, over 100 years ago. The second panel in the image above is my digital reconstructions of the lost sculpture. The third panel is a marble re-construction using CNC milling process.
Using digital tools, I re-create a full scale 1.17 metres (3ft 9 inches) version of this lost art, so it can engage and inspire a new audience. Rewards to backers who helped kick start the project included; 3D prints, digital images to download and a time-lapse video of the sculpting process.
How was it lost?
Spiral Expansions, was first shown in 1913 in Paris, as part of Boccioni's solo exhibition of 11 plaster sculptures. Boccioni died in 1916 in horse riding accident, and in 1927 the sculptures were destroyed by a family friend, the sculptor Piero da Verona.
Fortunately 3 sculptures were salvaged from the broken pieces. However 'Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement' was beyond saving.
Who was Umberto Boccioni?
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was an Italian painter and sculptor, who in his short lifetime of 33 years became extremely influential in the Futurist movement. In 1916 he was drafted into the Italian Army. During a cavalry training exercise he was thrown from his horse, and tragically died the following day from his injuries.
Boccioni’s artistic work started with painting and drawing, and these led onto his great works of sculpture.
Boccioni's methods used the most adaptable material at the time - plaster. It gave him the freedom to work the way he wanted.
The bronze castings of 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space' were made 30 years after his death.
Boccioni and the Futurists rejected traditional sculptural materials; marble and metal (although we owe much to the casting in bronze, as it preserved the work for later generations to enjoy)
Rewards and Pledges
The kickstarter campaign had a number of small 3D print awards of a high quality 3D print.
6 inch and 3 inch rewards, even the small one has incredible detail.
For many years I wondered how Boccioni developed his influential masterpiece ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space’. There was a lack of information about how the sculpture was developed, although his drawings and paintings show dynamic movement there seemed to be a lack of any small maquettes for his sculpture. This led to more research and finding photographs of ‘Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement’ 1913 which was made just before Unique Forms. Sadly the Spiral Expansions plaster original was destroyed by another artist some years after Boccioni died in a horse riding accident in 1916. Out of that tragedy, this project has been a 'what if?' Could something be done about that and how far, realistically, could it go?
There are times when I have been surprised by where ideas can take unexpected turns, often beyond my expectations and this becomes a reminder of a collaborative process, and the question of when is it finished? One possible answer, when it can be shared and experienced by others.
It was great to share the CNC milled foam version with Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, Make Liverpool and a University over the winter of 2017/18. Seeing others interpret the work through their drawings and study is personally rewarding.
This is not something I ever predicted when I began the campaign, you never know where things may lead. Enrico Dini @ D-Shape in collaboration with a company TorArt digitally manufactured the sculpture in Carrara marble. I have been out to Italy to see this, and words can't really explain how incredible it is to see it realised in this material, the engineering, technology and craft involved in making it. It is a challenging process, interpreting the forms from old photographs, the learning is continuous.