The extraordinary home of the Italian futurist opens to the public in Rome
The home of Italian futurist Giacomo Balla is set to open to the public for the first time this month. Casa Balla, located in Rome, is an explosion of colors and abstract paintings, a three-dimensional expression of the artist’s vision. The apartment is accessible after 30 years of closure thanks to a collaboration between MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts and the Special Superintendency of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape of Rome.
Casa Balla, located on Via Oslavia, was the artist’s family home and a living work of art. With the help of his wife Elisa and their daughters, Balla transformed the apartment with vivid murals, colorful floor tiles and bright geometric upholstery. The MAXXI museum calls him “An experimental laboratory made up of painted walls, a myriad of furniture, furnishings, decorated utensils, numerous paintings and sculptures, clothes he designed and many more. objects which together have created a unique and kaleidoscopic total project “.
Domitilla Dardi, the curator of the project, said: “[The house] talks about the link between art and life: the act of the Balla family of experimenting with their own art without interruption is what makes their work a “diffuse project” which involves as much paintings as crockery, sculptures , furniture, but also the clothes they wore, themselves become works of art in movement.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Balla’s birth, MAXXI also inaugurated a large exhibition commenting on the artist and his work. “On display are new works designed and created for the occasion that reflect the many suggestions of Casa Balla, a true work of art, bringing out the deep topicality of the multifaceted master’s thought,” the gallery said. The exhibition will include applied art, furniture and designs originating from Casa Balla and new works by contemporary artists and designers.
Balla was an influential figure in the 20th century Italian futurist movement which saw art as something to be experienced daily, not just reserved for museum space. After forming a friendship with other passionate young artists, Balla and the group began to explore the use of abstraction to capture the intangible ideas of light, movement and speed. In 1909, artist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti founded the Futurist movement through the first of many powerful manifestos.
Part of the futuristic philosophy was the importance of exploring artistic creativity in all forms of society, from politics to food. Balla’s house is a microcosm of that notion, with everything from kitchenware to men’s jackets exuding its interwoven abstract patterns. Notably, Balla was not fascinated by machines and violence like some of the other Futurists. Instead, his works are airy and whimsical, playing optical games. He was influenced by Eadweard Muybridge’s cubism and photography in his efforts to capture progression and movement in his works.
Balla died in 1958 but his daughters, Luce e Elica, continued to live in the family home until their death in the 1990s. After becoming a protected heritage site in 2004, work to open the house in as a public exhibition began in 2019 when MAXXI and the Special Superintendency of Rome began their collaboration with the support of the Banca d’Italia and the Ministry of Culture.
Balla’s house will be open on weekends from June 25 – reservations can be made through the MAXXI website – and the MAXXI gallery exhibition opened on June 17th. The two exhibition venues will remain open until November 21.