Born in 1910 in Igalo in present-day Montenegro, Tullio Crali became one of the leading exponents of Italian Futurism in the 1930s – renowned for his vertiginous ‘aeropaintings’, depicting landscapes as experienced during flight, he was picked by F.T. Marinetti, shortly before the founder of Futurism’s death in 1944, to ensure the survival of the Futurist movement into the second half of the 20th century. This exhibition of more than 60 works is Crali’s first UK survey. Find out more from the Estorick Collection’s website.
Preview the exhibition below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here
Three years after his family moved from the city of Zadar to Gorizia in 1922, Tullio Crali came across a newspaper article about the Italian Futurist movement; he created his first Futurist drawing later that same year. Roarings of an Aeroplane (1927) – painted when the artist was still a teenager – shows a skilful handling of the robust verticals and vivid colours characteristic of the movement, while also evincing a growing obsession with the process of mechanical flight that anticipates his famous ‘aeropaintings’ of the 1930s.
A frequent flyer himself, Crali felt a deep admiration for the pilots of the Frecce Tricolori, the national aerobatic team of Italy. With typical Futurist vigour, this aeropainting suggests the spiralling wings of a plane performing a daring stunt.
Perhaps Crali’s most distinctive contribution to Futurism, which for Marinetti was intended first and foremost to promote the masculine vigour of machines in motion, was a deeply personal and often lyrical bent. In this landscape, fractal, overlapping arcs convey both the patterns of light and shadow cast by the setting sun, and a sense of the infinity of space.
Unlike many Futurists before and during the Second World War, Crali did not become implicated with Fascism – and after the war, he increasingly began to take his inspiration from nature, rather than machinery. After visits to the Breton coast in the 1950s and ’60s, he formulated a theory he called Sassintesi – a fusion of the Italian words for ‘stones’ and ‘synthesis’ – which led to such geologically inspired works as this sculptural Eruption.