Giacomo Balla (Italian, born July 18, 1871–died March 1, 1958) was one of the founding members of the Futurist movement. Born in Turin, Balla studied at the Accademia Albertina di Belle Arti and the University of Turin. Following his studies, he moved to Rome in 1895, where he worked as a caricaturist, illustrator, and portrait painter. In 1899 his work was shown in the Venice Biennale and the Esposizione internazionale di belle arti at major art galleries at Rome, where he would regularly exhibit in successive years. Balla’s early work was informed by Pointilism and Italian Divisionism—artistic factions that focused on the representation of light and movement. Beginning in 1903, Balla began to instruct Italian artists Gino Severini (1883–1966) and Umberto Boccioni (1882–1916) in divisionist painting techniques; over the ensuing decade, Balla’s work would be included in major avant-garde international shows, such as the Internationale Kunstausstellung in Dusseldorf and the Salon d’Automne in Paris. In 1910, Balla signed the Futurist Manifesto, along with Severini, Boccioni, Luigi Russolo (Italian, 1885–1947), and Carlo Carrà (Italian, 1881–1966). The faction of artists listed the depiction of movement as their primary objective, which they saw as symbolic of the dynamic, forward-thinking of the 20th century. Balla’s realization of movement as a sequence of repeated forms was manifested in works such as Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash (1912) and The Hand of the Violinist (1912). This segmentation of light and movement increased as Balla’s works gradually shifted towards complete abstraction, and his artistic output expanded to include sculptural compositions and works in the applied arts. Balla would continue to exhibit in Europe and the United States extensively throughout his career; in 1935, he was made a member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome. He died in Rome in 1958, at the age of 86.

Timeline

1871
Born July 18 in Turin
1893
Began work as a lithographer, but moved to Rome
1900
Spent nine months in Paris
1910
Wrote the 'Manifesto dei pittori futuristi' and the 'Manifesto tecnico della pittura futurista' together with U. Boccioni, C. Carrà, G. Severini and L. Russolo
1910
Began designing and painting Futurist furniture and also created Futurist "antineutral" clothing
1913
Began signing his pictures 'Futur Balla'
1914
Began sculpting and the following year created perhaps his best known sculpture called Boccioni's Fist
1913–1916
Painted pictures that approached pure abstraction
1930
Started to gradually move away from Futurism
1935
Made a member of Rome's Accademia di San Luca
1937
Returned to traditional representational art and the veristic representation of themes from his youth
1958
Died March 1 in Rome