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Giacomo Balla


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Italian futurist painter, who created some of the earliest nonobjective paintings.

Born in Turin, the son of a photographer, Balla worked as a lithographer and studied art before settling in Rome to work as a painter. In 1900 he visited Paris, where he learned the divisionist technique of the neoimpressionists. He introduced this technique to Boccioni and Gino Servani (1883–1966) who used it to convey movement and speed, which they saw as the most important elements of modern life. Through them Balla met other members of the futurist movement and in 1910 he signed the manifesto of futurist painters. His first futurist painting was Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash, which was based on multi-exposure photographic studies of movement and conveys the effect of a dog running by depicting each movement of the legs, tail, and leash simultaneously.

He soon moved towards less superficial representations of movement in such works as Automobile and Noise (1912) and Car in a Race (1914), which are an attempt to portray abstract expressions of speed and noise. He also experimented with sculptural constructs involving movement, colour, and sound but in about 1930 reverted to nonexperimental figurative painting.

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