balla, the hand of the violinist, 1912

Giacoma Balla painted Rhythm of the Violinist in 1912 at the height of the Futurist movement. During this time period, Balla was experimenting with how to make a painting that seemed to move. Balla’s idea behind the painting was that everything is always in motion and therefore a painting needs to depict movement. The idea that a painting could move went along with the ideals of the futurist movement.

Rhythm of the Violinist was painted with oil on canvas.  The painting is of a hand as it plays a violin and it shows how both the hand and the violin move through space and time. This painting was part of Balla’s analytical study on movement.  In one of his letters Balla wrote that motion was “the necessary starting point for the discovery of the lines of abstract speed.”[1]  He viewed his paintings as almost a scientific and mathematical study on motion.   His objective in painting Rhythm of the Violinist was to explore “movement in both its physical reality and optical appearance.”[2] He explores these ideas using just the hand, arm, and violin but he leaves out the rest of the body of the violinist. He focuses on these parts, because that’s the part of the body that is moving and he’s what he’s focusing on. His subject matter shows that what Balla was most interested in was not the artist himself, but the way the hand moved as it played the instrument.

In this particular painting he used lines to construct the hand of the violinist.  Even at a single instant in time the hand seems to be vibrating, because of the way he blurs the lines. The lines of the painting almost seem to chase one another.[3]  It is this way that he captures the movement of the hand at a different moments.  Then as the hand and the violin move, the lines between the two points of time blur.  It’s almost as if you can see the hand moving from one point in space to another.  As the objects move the colors fade until the hand is almost indistinguishable.  His use of color in this case helps to give the picture the illusion of movement.

Balla also uses the background of the painting to give the hand the illusion of movement.  For the most part the background is relatively plain.  The hand and the violin are definitely the most striking thing about the painting.  However the bright background is encroached upon by black space.  It is done in such a way that the colored part of the painting forms almost an upside down triangle against a black background.  This forces the eye of the viewer downward, which helps give the hand a sense of movement.

Balla’s study of motion in this painting shows the ideals of the Futurist movement and also how Balla viewed art.  This painting shows that Balla wanted a painting that showed how things move.  The different technique that he uses shows his dedication to making a painting move.

 

Bibliography

Baldacci, Paolo;  Top of Form

Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco. Giacomo Balla: abstract futurism. London:  Finarte. 1995

Fagiolo dell’Arco, Maurizio. Balla: the futurist. New York:   Rizzoli International Publications Inc. 1988


[1] Paolo Baldacci;  Top of Form

Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco. Giacomo Balla: abstract futurism. (London:  Finarte. 1995)

 

[2] Paolo Baldacci;  Top of Form

Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco. Giacomo Balla: abstract futurism. (London:  Finarte. 1995)

 

[3] Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco,. Balla: the futurist. (New York: Rizzoli International Publications Inc. 1988)

 

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