Differences of Futurism and Surrealism?

The Futurist Manifesto of 1909 and the Surrealist Manifesto of 1925 both demonstrated a radical turn from the desired 19th century social standing of workers and intelligentsia. Written first in Bologna Italy prior to World War I, the Futurist Manifesto promoted the new speed of machinery, activism of people in revolts and revolutions, and overall economic and social modernism taken place in the early part of the century. The short Surrealist’s piece was backing many of the personal rights that surrealists were previously not allowed to have. They advocate for a significantly more open society in return for much safer and close knit family units.

The Futurist Manifesto is full of similar ideas to the Surrealist Manifesto but goes beyond the threshold of understandable, and into a poorly thought out and self contradictory state of affairs. Whereas the Futurist Manifesto promulgates an intense individual response close to anarchism of the socially literate elite, it also promotes an extreme labor approach. Embracing poetry, violence including war, and a demolition of state institutions, the Futurists also embrace mass politics and mass consumption. They dislike capitalism as the Surrealists dislike moral authority above them. Interestingly this work authored in Bologna, long famed as the most communist based city in all of Italy (as well as one of the most prominent and largest universities), is key to understanding where the basis of this work is derived from. The pro worker and intelligentsia aspects of the Futurist Manifesto are beautifully representative of the pre war social discontent that followed so quickly into the new Europe. In comparison the Surrealists’ documents greatly avoid the workers and the illiterate. Overall the Surrealists agree with many of the social issues distributed by the socialists on individualism, arts, and they are less in revolt but similarly prompt the citizens with revolution neither being a poor idea.

While these documents have somewhat different ideas about present man and mans’ future the most important question must be why? Why in 1909 does a revolutionary thesis of this magnitude come from? Also, after the thirteen years and a world war between the two pieces how do they follow from one another? How does the war affect the Surrealist movement that never affected the pre war Futurists movement?

A Futurist and a Surrealist

The “Futurist Manifesto,” written by F. T. Marinetti, and the “Surrealist Manifesto” written by Andre Brenton, are both interesting writings that contain radical ideas for the early 20th century. The Futuristic Manifesto focuses more on the rejection of the past, or in other words Futurism. It promotes sexism, war, and destruction of museums. The Surrealist manifesto focuses on revolution slightly more than the Futurist Manifesto does, but in a less violent way. It is written that they are “determined” on creating a revolution, yet refrains from mentioning violence in wars.

Two things about the Futurist Manifesto really intrigued me. Out of curiosity and to better understand the history surrounding this manifesto, I looked up the date it was published. I found out it was published at 1904, which I found interesting in regards to the manifesto’s discussion about violence and revolution. This manifesto was written before the Russian revolution and World War I, and at this point in time the world had not truly experienced the kind of war and revolution this writing was describing. This made me think, did this manifesto have any influence on the Russian Revolution? And second, why would Marinetti want to glorify war in the first place?

The main thing about the Surrealism manifesto that fascinated me was Article 2. Here it is written that Surrealism is not a means of expression but a freeing of the mind. Previous to reading this manifesto, I had always thought of Surrealism in the sense that it was an art style. To me, art has always been a way of expressing ones’ self, while concurrently freeing ones’ mind. I took my original view of Surrealism and applied it to the reading. I still think that one is expressing themselves while also freeing their minds, because free thoughts lead to great ideas. So to me, Article 2 was slightly contradictory. However, I could just be interpreting Breton’s ideas incorrectly.

Overall, I found both these manifestos very interesting in the ways they express their desire  and capability of revolution.

Marinetti and History as a Waste of Time

Marinetti’s Futurist Manifesto expresses a very curious ideology. While it advocates revolution and the destruction of all moral systems, it anticipates and applauds a brave new world in which man resembles a machine. While this man does not transform himself into a cyborg in Marinetti’s fantasies, he acts on the basis of intuition, stripping him of rationality and superficial manners. Yet, I think responding to one’s base desires rather than to the inquiries of a higher intellect implies a more profound slavery, in which one can easily fall prey to leaders promising new and improved opportunities for the satisfaction of our desires. Today, we refer to such a system as consumerism, and to its Brahmins as marketing consultants. Marinetti’s calls for violence bring to mind the sort of impotent thrashing-about one might expect from the sort security-obsessed consumerist society described in the work of Aldous Huxley.

What can the contemporary student salvage from the Futurist Manifesto? After all, dubious projects occasionally have their merits. Its most interesting feature is its conflation of politics and experience. I think this sort of thinking stems from the early 19th century, with the development of conscription and centralized states. As states acquired more power, their subjects came into contact with history in ways inconceivable to the inhabitants of previous centuries. The Napoleonic Wars for instance, pushed millions of conscripts across the plains of Europe to foreign lands. There, they found themselves in a position to decide the fate of their homeland in small ways that became significant on a wide scale. Marinetti goes further, asking people to take history into their own hands and stop wasting time in museums and group tours of archaeological sites. To live fulfilling lives, they must act to build a new world. Though I disapprove of the type of world Marinetti would have us hope for, I think he does make an interesting point when he implores people to stop venerating the idols of the past and strive to remake the world according to their own values. On the other hand, I am not sure the great revolutionaries of the twentieth century ignored history and historical figures.  Does anyone else think this might be the case? Do revolutions depend on an ability to free oneself from the past, or does every revolution depend on a tradition?

Futurist Manifesto and Surrealist Manifesto

The futurist and surrealist manifesto came about in the early 20th century and took place in Italy. The futurist manifesto was written in 1909 by F.T. Marinetti and was based on the philosophy of rejecting the past and moving on to violence, hatred, and speed. It rejects all forms of knowledge and declares that we must use violence and aggression. It states that the only cure for the world is to glorify war. The surrealist manifesto was written in 1925 and was a declaration of the importance of thoughts and dreams. It is a total liberation of the mind by letting out one’s expressions in the unconscious state. He focuses on the importance of dreams since they are suppressed human emotions.

Both the futurist and surrealist manifestos are designed to create a revolution. Does the futurist manifesto believe that violence is the only answer? Is there not another cure for the world? Is surrealism the only total liberation of the mind?

The movie “Le Chien Andalou” was produced in 1929 and is a silent surrealist short film. The film was created off of the two director’s dreams of the moon being cut in half by a blade and the other of ants coming out of a human hand. Did this movie create a movement in Italy? Did people become more in touch with their suppressed emotions?

Surrealism and Futurism

Both the Surrealist and Futurist Manifestos preach straying from the conventional and praising the artist. Written by F.T Marinetti in 1909, the Futurist Manifesto is a rejection of the past and a celebration of the present. It glorifies war, danger, and speed. Although it is an Italian document, It almost foreshadows the upcoming Russian Revolution with all the talk of crowds, revolt, militarism, and patriotism. The manifesto is in essence looking forward to the modern state. All the “speed” that Marinetti is writing about can be interpreted as the desire for increased industrial output. In addition, the artist is painted as someone who must write and paint about courage and audacity rather than “sleeplessness.”The manifesto is looking for a world where work and revolt are praised, and history is left behind. This is a world not too far off.

The Surrealist Manifesto is similar in a sense that it wants to contradict the conventional. It also gives power to the artist. Surrealism, as defined by the Andre Breton in 1925, the writer of the manifesto, is “total liberation of the mind.” They are like the futurists determined to make a revolution. These manifestos represent the rocky ground European society is resting on. The Surrealist Manifesto contradicts  the emergence of reasonable thought. Its aim is to express the real function of thought. However, it is not clear what they believed the real function of thought was.  With this, what was the purpose of thought to the Surrealists? In addition, why was the artist so highly praised in this era? Was it their ability to influence society and change so much, or for some other reason?

Both the Surrealist Manifesto and the Futurist Manifesto revolve around the intention of bringing about an artistic revolution through shattering conventional creative barriers by releasing the creative potential of the unconscious. Each manifesto longs for a revolution—to uproot and destroy contemporary understandings and criticisms of artwork with an explosion of abstract aggression.
The Futurist Manifesto was written in 1909, and opposes established teachings and forms of knowledge. It starts with a very long story of various sequences with a nonsensical plot which has no chronological importance. It reminds me of the type of disjointed puzzle which comprises our every night dream sequences, which I believe to be the purpose.  It describes teachers as being “gangrenous” and glorifies the destruction of libraries and museums, a blatant rebellion against public and popular learning establishments. F.T. Marinetti exclaims that war is the only cure for the world, and the essence of art is violence and injustice.
Does Marinetti think that violent artwork can be the only true way to properly express yourself, due to the fact that the human mind is violent by design?
The Surrealist Manifesto claims that surrealism exists and it is the foundation of a revolution. The liberation of the mind itself, a difficult concept to understand, is the basis for surrealism. The unlocking of the creative elements of the unconscious mind and “detached” nature is what surrealism revolves around.
Is the revolt described in the Surrealist Manifesto similar to the one described in the Futurist Manifesto? What does it mean in the Surrealist Manifesto when it states, “It is a cry of the mind turning back on itself, and it is determined to break apart its fetters, even if it must be by material hammers!”?


Starting from scratch, Magnitostroi, a Soviet Union steel plant in 1929, evolved from an premature industrial environment to a site with 250,000 people in three and a half years. (64) Located in the remote Urals, the plant was entirely dependent on long distance train for its imports, including labor force. The labor force in Magnitostroi was mixed, ranging from educated urbanites to peasants and proletariat. The problems that these workers faced, despite the rough working conditions, was their lack of prior experience with industrial machinery. The relationships between the different classes were disjointed, and crash courses were taken by inexperienced peasants to equip them with four years work experience within six weeks. The Soviet Union at the time had a hyper rationalized economy with heavy industry as the top priority, and the working conditions were extremely poor.

The ideologies of the socialists caused inner turmoil at the steel plant, people were considered traitors if they did give maximum relative effort in comparison to their fellow workers, which caused them to turn or one another and even have each other arrested. As socialist competition increased, so did the pace, which caused many mistakes and setbacks to due sloppy management.


LGBT Rights Activists Protest Metropolitan Opera Opening Night

On September 23rd, The Metropolitan Opera held its Russian-themed opening gala. The opening was for a piece by Tchaikovsky entitled, “Eugene Onegin”. The activists who protested the opening night gala deplored the recent antigay laws in Russia signed by President Vladimir Putin. The protest against the Met begin when a openly gay composer, Andrew Rudin started an online petition for the Met to dedicate it’s Russian-themed performance to gay rights and the LGBT community in Russia. The petition has been signed by over 9,000 people and spoke of the irony that the work of Tchaikovsky, who was also a gay composer, was being performed by artists who supported a government that had passed anti- LGBT laws.

More interviews with the principal artists and the general manager of the Met can be found in this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/24/nyregion/gay-rights-protest-greets-opening-night-at-the-met.html?_r=0

Does the Metropolitan have the right to perform a Russian piece without any political undertones? Is it ethical to perform the works of a gay Russian composer without acknowledging the suffering of the Russian LGBT community? Russia is not only denying the evidence that one of its greatest artists was a homosexual but also denying human rights to Russian citizens who identify as homosexual or transgender. Should the Met use its cultural significance to denounce antigay legislation? Can culture and politics be truly separate when human rights are at stake?

Kemerovo region bans foreign adoption

The regional legislature of Kemerovo Oblast, a region in Central Russia, passed a law on Wednesday, September 25th that banned all adoption of Russian children by foreign persons. They cited as their reasoning several cases of Russian children being placed with abusive families abroad, particularly in the United States. Last September the State Duma, or parliament, passed a law making it illegal for Russian children to be adopted by American families; now they are expanding that ban globally. Another reason for the ban, says Galina Solovyova, deputy chairman of the regional education committee, is legalized gay marriage in other countries. Russia sees that type of exposure to its young citizens has dangerous.

Follow the link below to see the original article in The Moscow Times:

Kemerovo Authorities Ban Foreign Adoption

What does this mean for future generations of Russia? What is next, a ban on international travel for youths under age 25? Or, perhaps, just a ban on travel to countries where gay marriage is legalized? Clearly the issue of gay marriage is of concern to Russian authorities and they have been working hard to undermine the movement and quash the public’s notions of reform. But when in history has isolating one’s country ever proved to be successful in the long run? By refusing to grant rights of marriage to same-sex couples, and now this ban on foreign adoption, Russia is setting itself in clear opposition to the other great, liberal powers of the world. Only time will tell if that move is a wise one.

Film as a New Leisure Activity

Based on the way The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari was set up, European cinema was establishing itself as the new form of art. Comparing it to Battleship Potemkin which came a few years after Dr. Caligari, there is a noticeable difference in the quality (and probably the budgets) when put side by side. Potemkin shows high quality film and excellent lighting; however it was backed by the state and most likely had a much higher budget than Dr. Caligari because of its designation as state propaganda.

Dr. Caligari however, was building itself like a novel, photograph or any other work of art, using technique and style to create a masterpiece. Because the film is suppose to be the founding of expressionism-which is clearly shown based on the amount of closeups used to convey emotion-it delivers emotion rather than story. Using the various lighting techniques, this movie paves the way for future work such as Triumph of Will and other important films in European Cinema.

As a whole, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari serves not only as a benchmark in film history, it serves as a guiding light for understanding European culture in the 20’s. The idea that man’s reality is controlled by a “state”- in this case the actual psychiatrist- really seemed to click with Germans and Europeans as a whole, leading to this film’s success and laying the groundwork for film makers like Eisenstein.