Art: Lively Proof

We must draw our inspiration from the tangible miracles of everyday life, from the iron net of speed that envelops the earth, from ocean liners, from dreadnoughts, from marvelous flights that plow the skies . . .

The Italian artists who composed that manifesto in 1910 called themselves "Futurists" and thought they had hit upon the makings of a modern renaissance. One of the best, Umberto Boccioni, sculptured a figure that aptly symbolized their program: a striding man transformed into a flamelike tangle of whipping air currents.

Both Boccioni and the Futurist movement died in...

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