Saturday, May 30, 2015

Carlo Carrà, The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli

Carlo Carrà, The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli, 1910-11
78.25 x 102 in.

Carlo Carrà (1881-1966) was an Italian painter and one of the leaders of the Futurist movement. His professional art career began when he was twelve and he left home to work as a decorative muralist.  He spent time working in Paris and London and learning from contemporary art.  In 1901 he returned to Milan, where he enrolled in the Brera Academy.  Some of his early works are fairly traditional landscapes, but as early as 1900 Carrà began to explore the distorted space and intense colors of Futurism.  In 1910 he signed Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's Manifesto of Futurism, along with Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Gino Severini, and Luigi Russolo. Carrà was more Cubist than his colleagues, using geometric deconstruction of space to portray his subjects.  The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli is perhaps Carrà's most famous work.  Angelo Galli was an anarchist and labor organizer in Milan.  He was killed by police during a general strike in 1904.  Fearing that Galli's funeral would turn into a political demonstration, the state sent police to bar anarchists from the cemetery.  When the mourners resisted, police responded with force and a fight ensued.  Carrà was present at the funeral and witnessed the event.  Carrà captured the intensity and chaos of the scene, as well as the rapid movement of the figures.  The two factions brandish weapons and clash with each other.  The black flags of the anarchists fly over the crowd. Using the afternoon sun shining in the background, Carrà turns the episode into a heroic scene, reminiscent of the political paintings of the Age of Revolutions.  The central figure becomes a freedom fighter, struggling for liberty against the oppressive state.  At the center of the painting we see Galli's red coffin held precariously on the shoulders of the pallbearers as the struggle to endure the violence.  The coffin seems to emanate light just like the sun, illuminating the figures of the fighters.

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