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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/554

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A Power-House as a Futurist Painter Sees It

��The artist sees the energy rather than the generating machinery

��SUPPOSE that you were an artist and that you were asked to paint the picture of a man describing circles with a lighted cigarette held in his left hand in a perfectly dark room. How would you draw the moving cigarette? As a brilliant point of light, as a complicated curve winding in and out? Obviously, you would paint it as a labyrinth of curving glowing lines. Thus you would give the impression of motion. That being so an artist who paints a dancer with one toe on the ground and another pointing skyward is not telling the whole truth. Dancers are constantly moving, and': to express their movements, something more must be done than to transfix them in a single attitude. So we find the futurists striking out in a new direction — trying hard to translate

��Frances Simpson Stevens and her rep- resentation in line and color of the energy in motion in a great power- house. She calls it pictorial velocity

���motion into color and line. You may laugh at their bewilderingly complicated effects; you may be puzzled at their efforts to explain what happens when a horse and its rider jump ov^r a fence; but at least, they have a basic idea behind all their apparent madness.

Now the futurists have been particularly struck with the possibilities that lie in scientific and engineering subjects. One of the best known of them. Miss Frances Simpson Stevens, has boldly attacked the problem of interpjeting the modern power- house on canvas. To an artist of the older schools the power-house is simply an aggregation of engines, boilers and dyna- mos. He knows that the shafts of the machinery spin around at the rate of hundreds of revolutions a minute; but he makes little or no attempt to give you any idea of what these terrific speeds mean. To the futurist, the machin- ery itself is of no pictorial im- portance; the let-loose spirit of the great dynamos is everything. And so we find Miss Stevens ignoring mere masses as such and actually endeavoring to paint velocity. Let Miss Stevens speak for herself:

"Here we are, Americans, living in the biggest and most powerful city in the world, during a period of enormous inventions and stupend- ous activity. But there has been so far, no attempt in art to find a method adequate to express the vastness of events to-day. Machin- ery can be made into a harmonious, informal design. A futurist artist in Italy, seeing an ordinary street car go by, realizes the future possi- bilities of power and speed, and he begins tc paint great trains going so fast that they lose their definite form in the lines of direction. Mo- tion and light destroy the solidity of the material bodies. Even those artists who paint mechanical forms have achieved nothing of the life, or force, or purpose of the object. The futurists make their engines move, throb and create. Something is always happening in a futurist's pictures, and the great variety of color and changing lines helps to convey this impression."

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