Like Like: Bruno Munari

"The useless machines" 1984


Bruno Munari was born in Milan in 1907 but spent his childhood and teenage years with his family in Badia Polesine in Italy’s Veneto region. He returned to Milan in 1926 and started to follow the Futurist movement at the age of 19, displaying his work immediately in group expositions in Italy and Europe. For fifteen years, from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, his composite activity was delineated along the path traced by the theoretical reflections of the Futurist movement. He showed an interesting autonomy of expression which was acknowledged and encouraged by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. As many scholars agree, The Ricostruzione Futurista dell’Universo (Futuristic Reconstruction of the Universe) manifesto penned in 1915 by Balla and Depero reveals a Munari already in nuce, first and foremost for his ability to create dynamic forms that are immaterial and evanescent. The theme of the dematerialization of art is a constant in Munari’s art throughout his career: «More than anything else, I believe that what needs to be taken most into consideration is the passage of a form, which has its dimensions, through a metamorphosis, as a fluid, to become another form. That way, there is no longer a definite form but a moment of passage from one form to the next and this can only be recognized through motion»

The Useless Machines are the most important work with which Munari made his debut on Milan’s Futurist scene of the thirties.
We will describe these works in detail, analyzing the many characteristics of their design (all present at the same time) which accentuate a composite thought of extraordinary complexity. We will use exclusive images – available to the public for the first time – to illustrate the poetic wealth of these works and analyze the formal properties listed below:

1. Dynamism of an indefinite form
2. Kinetism
3. Spatiality
4. Programming
5. Chance
6. Abstraction
7. Installation
8. Perceptive instability
9. Creation of natural forms

24 / 03 / 2015