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Giacomo Balla – Girl Running on a Balcony

9 Sep

Giacomo Balla, Girl Running on Balcony, 1912

I didn’t care much for Futurism before, but these days I am starting to appreciate its liveliness, energy, and the abundance of vibrant colours. Giacomo Balla’s painting “Girl Running on the Balcony” is of particular interest to me because it combines the motives of a child playing, a motif often used by the Impressionists, and the Pointilists’ method of painting in dots. This combination seems perfect because only Pointilism could capture the bubliness and joy of a child playing. Futurism was an Italian modernist art movement which embraced the speed, noise and the bright lights of the modern world. Dynamism and the movement was of a special interest to them. The girl in the painting, whose facial features we cannot even recognise, is Balla’s eight year old daughter Luce who was running up and down the balcony of the painter’s house in Rome. Giacomo Balla must have been inspired by the playfulness, dynamics and the speed of her running and playing and decided to capture it on canvas. You can only imagine how differently the same scene would have been portrait by different artists such as Renoir or Berthe Morisot who also liked painting children. Even Seurat’s pointilist paintings had a certain slowness and stillness to them, but Balla here uses the same painting method and acheives a completely different result. The repetitive figures of the girl are made up entirely out of dots and dashes in different shades of blue, beige and brown. It’s quite magical actually, when you gaze at the painting all the dots start moving and you can almost see the girl running in a slow-motion. Light and dark shades of blue on her dress really create a certain rhythm and it excites the eye. The idea behind it is brilliant and daunting too; to capture movement on a static canvas, that seems impossible and yet Futurists tried their best to convey dynamic scenes on canvas. This desire to capture movement is also partly inspired by the work of the late nineteenth century photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey.