Balla took this embrace of technology one step further by tailoring Futurist clothing. In September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, he introduced his “Anti-neutral Suit,” a bright orange, geometrically patterned collection of menswear, uniquely suited to the needs of the “urgent and imperative great war.” In 1915, alongside new recruit
, he announced no less than the total “Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe,” an initiative to introduce the Futurist aesthetic into all aspects of life as a way to educate and embolden a new type of man, one capable of dealing with the ever-quickening pace of modern life.
Futurism and Fascism
Marinetti hoped that Italian intervention in a great war would allow the country to gain credibility in Europe—a notion shared by many nations in World War I. As his first manifesto claimed, “We intend to glorify war—the only hygiene of the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of anarchists.”
In fact, Marinetti actively agitated for Italy to join World War I, and he, Boccioni, and others were quick to sign up for military service. But the war didn’t hold the redemption that Futurism sought. In 1916, Boccioni died in a training exercise, leaving an artistic and theoretical void in post-war Futurism. And although Italy ended up on the victorious side of the war, the country didn’t receive the territory it had been promised as a result of allying with the Triple Entente (Russia, France, and the United Kingdom).
Italy’s losses in World War I morphed into a myth of “mutilated victory” in the popular imagination, creating a political climate that Benito Mussolini would later manipulate so that Italian citizens accepted two decades of Fascist dictatorship. Futurism and fascism shared many rhetorical similarities (the glorification of war and violence, the primacy of Italian identity), and under Mussolini, Marinetti opportunistically promoted Futurism as a proto-Fascist movement, hoping to gain his artists official commissions from the Fascist Party.