Unique Forms of Continuity in Space

Umberto Boccioni (Italian, Reggio 1882–1916 Sorte)

H. 47 3/4, W. 35, D. 15 3/4 inches (121.3 x 88.9 x 40 cm.) 200 lbs (90.7 kg)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Lydia Winston Malbin, 1989
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Umberto Boccioni made the plaster version of this sculpture in 1913. Known as one of the preeminent painters of the Italian Futurist movement, he discovered a deep enthusiasm for working in three dimensions in 1912. That year he wrote to a friend: "These days I am obsessed by sculpture! I believe I have glimpsed a complete renovation of that mummified art." In the year or so that followed he created eleven plaster works that marked him as the key sculptor of the Futurist movement.

    Like his fellow Futurists, Boccioni celebrated the speed and technological power that animated the modern world. Here, in a work he titled Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, he emphasizes the figure's dynamism, energy, and almost mechanical force.

    World War One broke out the year after Boccioni made this work. The Futurists welcomed the war, believing that modern technological warfare would shatter Italy's obsession with the classical past. Instead, the war robbed the Futurist movement of one of its most talented members. Boccioni was killed in action in 1916, at the age of thirty-four. At the time of his death, this work existed only as a plaster cast. In 1949, it was cast in bronze posthumously.

  • Provenance

    MMA bronze was purchased by Lydia and Harry Winston from the Marinetti family in 1956. It is one of the second castings (1949).

  • Exhibition History

    ¦Berlin Metropolis: Jews and the New Culture, 1890-1918¦, The Jewish Museum, New York, November 14, 1999–March 5, 2000.

    ¦Materia: A Futurist Masterpiece and the Avant-garde in Milan and Paris¦, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, February 4–May 9, 2004,
    p.140 (Milan's "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space was damaged and MMA's was a last minute replacement. MMA's not in catalogue).

    Giampiero Bosoni, editor, ¦Il Modo Italiano: Italian Design and Avant-garde in the 20th Century¦, Musée des Beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, May 4–August 27, 2006; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, October 21, 2006–January 7, 2007; Museo d'Arte Moderne e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, March 3–June 3, 2007, ill. p. 147, checklist p. 359, no. 43. (Canadian venues only)

  • References

    Calvesi, Maurizio and Coen, Ester. Boccioni, L'opera completa. Milan, Italy: Electa Editrice, 1983. See entry for #856, Pp. 466 - 470.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History