carra, jolts of a cab, 1911


Carlo Carrá’s painting, Jolts of a Cab, from 1911, completely encapsulates the mood the Futurists were trying to convey in their artistic movement. This painting is incredibly colorful and the brush strokes make the hues leap off of the canvas. Carrá captures how the Futurists felt about technology and how the speed of new technology, mainly the vehicle, represented the movement that the Futurists wanted to make away from any old forms of art or literature. Marinetti, in the original Futurist Manifesto of 1909, tells the story of him behind the wheel of a car and says how he, “hurled myself- vlan!- head over heels in a ditch”.[1] The Futurists were not going to stay behind two metaphorical cyclists, or artists of the past, forever and wait for their movement to begin. They were going to charge forward, drive into a ditch, and completely change the way people thought about art. Jolts of a Cab illustrates this speed and obsession with new technology that the Futurists had during the years before the war.

This painting is a major sensory experience and creates a sense of motion because the subject matter is all over the canvas. The shapes in this painting add to the distortion of the palette. This painting does not have one major focal point and that results in a very disgruntled tone.  Even though the colors in this painting are very bright, they just add to the chaotic and restless feeling of the painting. Carrá truly evokes feelings of a car, or cab, shifting around and the passengers having no idea which direction is which. The darker hues that Carrá used in this painting give off a mysterious quality, while the lighter colors give a sense of illumination and a sweeter quality to the painting. The darker and lighter hues juxtaposed create a sense of disillusionment because the viewer cannot tell what to feel about the mood of the painting.

The first noticeable objects in this painting are the wheels of the cab mentioned in the title of the painting. The circular shape of the wheel is the giveaway, but other aspects of the painting are not as obvious to make out. The painting features different blocks of colors as the background which make it more difficult to distinguish any details in the background of the painting. In the Futurists’ minds, the thrill of speed and obsession with the new technology of the automobile had a correlation to someone’s personality especially in the years leading up to the war. Marinetti’s main influence, Mario Morasso, thought that how a man drove a car was how he would perform in other settings. Morasso thought, “Inured to fear and craving new adventures, the habitué of velocity would not hesitate to perform heroic acts in war, even going so far as unflinchingly to instigate his own death.”[2] The way a man drove a car was a sign of his heroism and masculinity. Carrá, in this painting, portrays a way of driving that Morasso would respect in the years before the First World War because it was not tranquil or steady, but instead it jolted the viewer into the sensory experience of losing all control .





Marinetti, F.T. The Futurist Manifesto.

Poggi, Christine. Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism. Princeton

and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009.

[1] F.T. Marinetti, “The Futurist Manifesto.”

[2] Christine Poggi, Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009), 11.

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