(b Reggio di Calabria, 19 Oct. 1882; d Sorte, nr. Verona, 17 Aug. 1916). Italian Futurist painter, sculptor (the only major one in the movement), and art theorist. He signed the two Futurist manifestos of painting (both 1910), wrote the one on sculpture (1912), and became the most energetic member of the group. Advocating a complete break with the art of the past, Boccioni was centrally concerned with the two main preoccupations of the Futurists—the production of emotionally expressive works and the representation of time and movement.
In his early Futurist works he often showed an interest in social themes, particularly big city life, but later (especially after a visit to Paris in 1912, when he was influenced by Cubism) he tended to use his paintings more as vehicles for his theories than as comments on life around him. Eventually this tendency led him close to abstraction, in pictures such as Dynamism of a Human Body (1913, Gall. d'Arte Moderna, Milan). In common with the other Futurists, Boccioni believed that physical objects have a kind of personality and emotional life of their own, revealed by ‘lines of force’ with which the object reacts to its environment. This notion is perhaps best shown in his most famous piece of sculpture, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913, casts in Tate, London, MoMA, New York, and elsewhere), which vividly expresses bodily movement. His ideas about sculpture were very forward-looking. He advocated the use of materials such as glass and electric lights and the introduction of electric motors to create movement. However, he died in an accident whilst serving in the Italian army before most of his ideas could be put into practice.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)