Carlo Carrá’s Pursuit from 1914 is from the Futurist movement and displays many of the features that Futurists included in their artwork. Pursuit is a painting made from a collage of different newspaper clippings and features an outline of a jockey riding a horse and racing through the painting. The black and white palette of the painting adds to the collage aspect and allows for the viewer to see lines more clearly. The shapes are very abrupt and the newspaper clippings are all geometric and have distinct lines. Carrá was an Italian painter and Pursuit was created right at the beginning of the First World War, which the Futurists welcomed with open arms. Carrá, with this painting, uses collage and newspaper clippings to promote the idea of speed and the pursuit of new technology, innovations, and a new Italy after the First World War.
Pursuit features many newspaper clippings including the headline of, “Nuova,” which in Italian means “new.” The Futurists believed in everything new and creating new art. These newspaper clippings were a way to illustrate this new art that they wanted to create. Carrá, along with his fellow Futurists, wanted a new art movement. Carrá wrote in one of his manifestos on painting, “We Futurist painters maintain that sounds, noises and smells are incorporated in the expression of lines, volumes and colours just as lines, volumes and colours are incorporated in the architecture of a musical work.” Carrá did this by making the painting look like an architect’s table and spreading out all of the materials so the viewer can explore the newspaper clippings to see the bigger picture of the horse and the jockey. Carrá pieced together the collage to show small parts of every newspaper clipping he included. He wants the viewer to see the bigger picture, but also notice the small details that make the bigger picture.
The different letterings of the newspaper headings help illustrate that Carrá has joined together multiple newspapers from Italy. World War I brought about nationalistic themes and Pursuit includes many of those themes. At the beginning of the war, many Europeans, especially the Futurists, were optimistic about the thought of war. They assumed Italy might gain from the war and grow as a country. The general emotional quality is a dynamic speed and overwhelming quality. The jockey and horse are definitely the main focal point, but the jockey is only noticeable after focusing on the painting for a long period of time. Carrá creates a “total painting” which incorporates all of the senses and jumps off of the canvas. The race horse signifies some sort of control in the painting because the jockey is controlling the horse. The Futurists’ wanted control of their movement and control of the art world as a whole. They wanted to completely destroy any preconceived notions about art and take the reins of a new type of art, just like the jockey takes the reins of a race horse. Also, the body and head of the horse are only visible, not the arms or legs. Carrá is challenging the idea of what a classic race horse should look like and expects the viewer to fill in the rest.
Carrá made this nationalistic painting through the dynamic use of collage and materials that jump off of the page. The horse and jockey are racing towards progress-progress in creative works, like Futurist art, technology, and Italy’s advancement as a European power. Although he did not depict the horse in the most natural of ways, Carrá was able to illustrate the horse and jockey through a distorted lens. The jockey is leading Italy in a new direction and many in Italy thought that the war would lead them in a new direction as well .
Carrá, Carlo. “The Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells 1913.” In The Documents of 20th–
Century Art: Futurist Manifestos. Edited by Umbro Apollonio, 111-115. New York:
The Viking Press, 1970.