In this essay I examine the question of the Catalan avant-garde’s relation to the Mechanical Age in light of works by four artists who approached technology with a ‘futurist’ sensibility, and were enthusiastically swept away by the zeitgeist of the times - the speed, novelty and adventure of the machine era - but who also recognized and negotiated with its destructive elements. By analysing representative works by the painter Joaquim Torres-Garcia, the poet Joan Salvat-Papasseit, the architect Josep Lluis Sert and the film director Segundo de Chomon, I explore how Catalan Futurism engaged with the dynamic forces of modernity, and how it incorporated local and traditional sources of inspiration, thereby balancing internationalist impulses with autochthonous nationalist urges. What Salvat-Papasseit’s anarchic visual poetry, Torre-Garcia’s constructivist paintings, Sert’s rationalist structures and Chomon’s proto-futurist film art share is a radical experimentalism with the materials of their craft. Their oeuvre is simultaneously informed by their authors’ socio-political concerns and tempered by their various degrees of involvement with the Catalan nationalist project. In every case, studying their relationship to the mechanical illuminates their particular and variable understanding of the different Catalan Futurism(s).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-280
JournalInternational Yearbook of Futurism Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Joan Salvat-Papasseit
  • Joaquim Torres-Garcia
  • Josep Lluis Sert
  • Segundo de Chomon
  • historical avant-garde in Barcelona
  • modernity
  • mechanical age
  • technophilia
  • machine angst
  • visual poetry
  • trick films
  • Constructivism
  • Razionalismo


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