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Benedetta Cappa Marinetti (1897-1977)

„Benedetta fra le donne“ – by this phrase Benedetta Cappa signed her first publication in the periodical “Dinamo”, not lacking of self-irony and fighting spirit. She is in fact considered the protagonist of an avant-garde, female way of living within the second generation of Futurism from 1917 onwards.

Within her middle-class upbringing, Benedetta Cappa was obviously given lessons on Education which must have aroused her interest in current educational science (e.g. Montessori). At the same time, she took lessons in painting from Giacomo Balla in whose workshop she first met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti early in 1918. This acquaintance, which led to a cohabitee and subsequently to a marriage during which three daughters were born, should turn out to strongly influence both of them.

Benedetta seems to have played a decisive role in the development of the futurist “Tattilism”, which postulates the sense of touch as an essential and, at the same time, suspenseful intervention on reality. The level system for the training of haptic skills introduced in the accompanying manifesto, which was published in 1921 only under the name of Marinetti, resembles the pedagogic recommendations of Maria Montessori.

In 1924, Cappa’s first novel “Le forze umane” was published. Here, Benedetta, how she simply calls herself from now on, experiments on the expressive potential of the line and shapes the latter into abstract units (“sintesi grafiche”), which are equally confronted with the text. In terms of striving for inner and universal harmony, image and text accompany the protagonist Luciana (who clearly seems to have autobiographical traits) on her way through numerous fields of tension and vitally important conflicts (such as her father’s madness when he returned from war).

The herein evolving dichotomy of complementary terms, such as dream vs. reality, conscious vs. subconscious, rationality vs. spirituality, also recurs in Cappa’s second novel “Il viaggio di Gararà” (1924), in which the protagonist tries to grasp rationally the dynamic matter she is travelling, but in the end does not succeed.

The dialogic novel (subtitle: “Romanzo cosmico per il teatro”) also supplies scenographic information and consequently implies to be put on stage, without, however, ever being performed. Even before this, Benedetta had already designed stage settings for three of Marinetti’s plays. Unfortunately, only a few drafts of these designs are left. Benedetta’s last novel “Astra e il sottomarino. Vita trasognata” (1935) is placed within a surrealistic intermediate world between conscious and subconscious, between dream and reality.

Succeeding the work of Balla, Benedetta’s paintings initially deal with dynamic objects and the impact they have on their surroundings. When it comes to her artistic work as a painter, we can generally observe an emerging tendency to abstraction and synthesis towards geometrical forms (cp. The five monumental plates for the Palazzo delle Poste at Palermo, 1934). After the end of the Second World War (and Marinetti’s death), Benedetta quits working as an artist.


Cited Literature:

Bello Minciacchi, Cecilia (ed.): Spirale di dolcezza + Serpe di Fascino. Scrittrici Futuriste Antologia, Naples 2001, p. 279-320.

Giachero, Lia: Benedetta Cappa Marinetti, in: Ezio Godoli (ed.): Il dizionario del futurismo, Florence 2002, p. 202-204.

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