Dark, hasty brushstrokes drag you into the painting. Your eyes pass fragmented faces with empty eyes, like broken masks. In the distance you glimpse houses, askew and falling away while you move on.Umberto Boccioni’s three-part series States of Mind takes up technology and movement in the futurist manner, yet concerns itself with the human involved rather than only the machine. In this part, the focus is on the traveller, the one who goes.

I find in this painting my own experience of transit, be it commute or travelling longer distances. You are constantly in motion, rushing or being rushed, thus the movement across the entire painting. Yet at the same time it involves a great deal of waiting and emptiness and you may see yourself in the figures bored or sleeping on the far right.

You are in a crowd of people, but do not look too closely at any one of the strangers. You see fragmented glimpses, figures rushing by without standing out, empty faces without character.

Maybe you look out of the window at the landscapes and cityscapes passing by. Your eye never rests on any one thing and the houses and streets blur into a colourful field of shapes.

At the end of the ride, you have seen many things without seeing anything at all.


Artwork: Umberto Boccioni, 1911, States of Mind II: Those Who Go. Seen at MoMA.

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