A Balla Painting Acquired by the Kröller-Müller Museum

Giacomo Balla (1871-1957)
Forme rumore di motocicletta , 1913-1914
Oil and gouache on paper - 73 x 101 cm
Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum
Photo : Kröller-Müller Museum

4/2/14 - Acquisition - Otterlo, Kröller-Müller Museum - What does a motorcycle backfiring look like ? Giacomo Balla attempted to set it down in oil and gouache on a large sheet. Entitled Forte rumore di motocicletta, the work was recently acquired by the Kröller-Müller Museum from a private collector for 2.8 million euros, funded with the help of the BankGiro Lottery, the Rembrandt Association, Fonds REAAL SNS, the VSB Fundation and the Mondriaan Fundation.
It was produced around 1913, that is three years after the manifesto signed by the Futurist painters including Balla, Boccioni, Carra, Russolo and Severini in 1910 in Milan. Famous for his Young Girl Running on a Balcony, painted in 1912 (Milan, Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna), the artist here no longer uses the divisionist touch for the Kröller-Müller painting and does not try to decompose the movement, but rather to convey speed and noise, retranscribing rather the effect of its sense. In order to achieve this, he rejects figuration choosing, instead, abstract forms. A whirl of dark circular lines stands out from large color blocks of green and ochre which evoke the setting in a park. A few elements also serve of course to depict a motorcycle : the traces of knobby tires, the chain and what appear to be sparks from metal perhaps evoking the motor or exhaust pipe.
During 1912-1913 Balla worked extensively on speed, notably repeating the motif of race cars in several works (at the MOMA or at the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan) in several, almost abstract compositions. The concept of noise can also be found in Abstract Speed, noise (1913, Venice, Guggenheim Foundation) or Speed of an Automobile + Light + Noise (1913, Zurich, Kunsthaus).

This oil and gouache on paper rounds out the Kröller-Müller collection which already owns Volo di rondini (1913) by Giacomo Balla and the sculpture Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (1913) by Umberto Boccioni as well as long term loans of works by Gino Severini.

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Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, mardi 4 février 2014

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