Boccioni was a member of the Futurists, a group of Italian artists who announced their existence in 1909 with a manifesto published on the front page of the French paper, Le Figaro. The group called for the abandonment of the past in favor of modern life and aimed to represent the metropolis in "multicolored and polyphonic tidal waves of revolution." Canvases such as The Street Pavers offered Boccioni the opportunity to radically transform a scene of backbreaking work into a celebration of the powerful form of the modern laborer. Through his inventive use of pulsating color and rhythmic brushwork, the artist activated the surface of the canvas, making the faceless workers almost indistinguishable from their urban setting.
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Title:The Street Pavers
Artist:Umberto Boccioni (Italian, Reggio 1882–1916 Sorte)
Medium:Oil on canvas
Dimensions:39 3/8 × 39 3/8 in. (100 × 100 cm)
Credit Line:Bequest of Lydia Winston Malbin, 1989
the artist (1914–d. 1916); his sister, Amelia Raffaella Boccioni Callegari, Verona (1916–45; sold in fall 1945 to Toninelli); Romeo Toninelli, Milan (1945–54; on consignment in 1954 to Galleria del Naviglio); [Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, 1954; sold on December 1, 1954, for $1,840, to Winston]; Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston, Birmingham, Mich. (1954–his d. 1966); Lydia Winston Malbin, Detroit and New York (1966–d. 1989; her bequest to MMA)
Milan. Galleria Centrale d'Arte. "Grande Esposizione Boccioni: Pittore e Scultore Futurista," December 28, 1916–January 14, 1917, no. 10 (as "Gli schiatori").
Milan. Bottega di Poesia. "Umberto Boccioni," March 10–21, 1924, no. 13 (as "I selciatori").
Milan. Circolo delle arti—Le Grazie. "Umberto Boccioni," January 1948, no catalogue? [see Ref. Podestà 1948].
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Twentieth Century Italian Art," June 28–September 18, 1949, unnumbered cat. (pl. 1; lent by Romeo Toninelli, Milan).
Venice. Biennale. "XXV Biennale di Venezia," June 8–October 15, 1950, Sala VI, no. 6 (as "I selciatori," 1910, lent by Romeo Toninelli, Milan).
Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Museum of Art. "20th Century Painting and Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry L. Winston," October 30–November 27, 1955, no. 7 (as "Street Pavers," [1909? or 1910?]).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Collecting Modern Art: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston," September 27–November 3, 1957, no. 16 (as "Street Pavers," 1909).
Richmond. Virginia Museum of Art. "Collecting Modern Art: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston," December 13, 1957–January 5, 1958, no. 16.
San Francisco Museum of Art. "Collecting Modern Art: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston," January 23–March 13, 1958, no. 16.
Milwaukee Art Institute. "Collecting Modern Art: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston," April 11–May 12, 1958, no. 16.
Minneapolis. Walker Art Center. "Collecting Modern Art: Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston," June 13–August 3, 1958, no. 16.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Futurism," May 31–September 5, 1961, no. 31 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Lewis Winston, Birmingham, Michigan).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Futurism," October 18–December 19, 1961, no. 31.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Futurism," January 14–February 19, 1962, no. 31.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Selections from the Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston Collection (Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin)," July 18, 1972–April 20, 1973, no catalogue.
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Futurism: A Modern Focus. The Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston Collection. Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin," November 16, 1973–February 3, 1974, no. 27.
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Futurism and the International Avant-Garde," October 26, 1980–January 4, 1981, no. 38 (dated c. 1911; lent by The Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston Collection [Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin, New York]).
New Haven. Yale University Art Gallery. "The Futurist Imagination: Word + Image in Italian Futurist Painting, Drawing, Collage and Free-Word Poetry," April 13–June 26, 1983, no. 18 (lent by the Winston-Malbin Collection, Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Boccioni: A Retrospective," September 15, 1988–January 8, 1989, no. 76A (lent by Lydia Winston Malbin, New York).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Boccioni: The Lydia Winston Malbin Bequest," June 15, 1990–January 15, 1991, no catalogue.
Rome. Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. "On Dynamism: Works by Umberto Boccioni from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Civiche Raccolte d'Arte del Castello Sforzesco, Milano," December 14, 1999–March 20, 2000, no. 10.
A[ttilio]. Po[destà]. "Vitalità di Boccioni." Emporium 107 (February 1948), ill. p. 73, notes its inclusion in Exh. Milan 1948.
Alfred H. Barr Jr. in James Thrall Soby and Alfred H. Barr Jr. Twentieth-Century Italian Art. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1949, pp. 9, 126, pl. 1, dates it "1910?".
Marco Valsecchi. Umberto Boccioni. Venice, 1950, pp. [2–4], ill., calls it "I Selciatori" and tentatively dates it 1909.
Giulio Carlo Argan with Maurizio Calvesi. Umberto Boccioni. Rome, 1953, pp. 15, 34, 75, pl. 20, as "Selciatori," in the collection of Toninelli, Milan.
Raffaele Carrieri. Avant-Garde Painting and Sculpture (1890–1955) in Italy. 2nd rev. ed. (1st ed., Italian, 1950). Milan, 1955, pp. 5 (English translation), 45, pl. 16, calls it "The Pavers"; dates it 1909 in the text and 1909? in the caption; erroneously locates it still in the Toninelli collection.
"The Winston Collection on Tour." Arts 32 (January 1958), ill. p. 37 (color), dates it 1909.
Joshua C. Taylor. Futurism. Exh. cat., Museum of Modern Art, New York. New York, 1961, pp. 43–45, 142, no. 31, ill. (color), tentatively dates it summer 1911.
Raffaele De Grada. Boccioni, il mito del moderno. Milan, 1962, pp. 158–59, 173, 178, 343, colorpl. IX, calls it "I Selciatori" and dates it 1910.
Lydia K. Winston and Harry L. Winston. "Le Futurisme." Aujourd'hui 6 (February 1962), ill. p. 6 (color), date it 1911.
Reyner Banham. "Futurism for Keeps." Arts Yearbook 6 (1962), ill. p. 162 (color), dates it 1911.
Raffaele Carrieri. Futurism. Milan, 1963, pl. 1, dates it 1909.
Joshua C. Taylor. "Harry Lewis Winston, Birmingham, Michigan: Futurist and Other Twentieth-Century Art." Great Private Collections. Ed. Douglas Cooper. New York, 1963, p. 297, ill. p. 294 (color), tentatively dates it summer 1911.
George Savage. "Collectors Collected." Studio 167 (February 1964), ill. p. 89 (color).
Gene Baro. "Collector: Lydia Winston." Art in America 55 (September–October 1967), ill. pp. 73 (installation photo), 77 (color), dates it 1911.
Teresa Fiori, ed. Archivi del divisionismo. Rome, 1968, vol. 2, p. 197, no. 2447, pl. 506, calls it "I Selciatori" and dates it 1910.
Marianne W. Martin. Futurist Art and Theory, 1909–1915. Oxford, 1968, pp. 105–6, 158 n. 2, pl. 73, calls it "I Selciatori"; dates it summer 1911, noting the early influence of Cubism, although Boccioni had not yet seen a Cubist painting.
Gianfranco Bruno. L'Opera completa di Boccioni. Milan, 1969, pp. 114–15, no. 178a, ill. and colorpl. LV, calls it "Selciatori" and dates it 1914.
Gene Baro. "Futurism Preserved: Lydia Winston Malbin." The Collector in America. Ed. Jean Lipman. New York, 1970, ill. p. 181 (installation photo).
Linda Shearer and Marianne W. Martin. Futurism: A Modern Focus. The Lydia and Harry Lewis Winston Collection. Dr. and Mrs. Barnett Malbin. Exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. New York, 1973, pp. 66–67, 236, no. 27, ill., date it 1911, noting that the theme of workers relates to "The City Rises" (1910; Museum of Modern Art, New York) and was not taken up again in later works; consider the "hesitant and superficial allusions to Cubism" evidence of Boccioni's earlier style; suggest the influence of Courbet's "Stone Breakers" which Boccioni may have seen at the 1910 Venice Biennale.
Umbro Apollonio, ed. Futurist Manifestos. New York, 1973, p. 229, no. 93, ill. p. 168, as "Pavers," 1914.
Caroline Tisdall and Angelo Bozzolla. Futurism. New York, 1978, pp. 85, 212, pl. 85, as "The Pavers," 1914; compared to "The City Rises," call it "quite the opposite, a detail of city life transformed into still-life".
Guido Ballo. Boccioni, la vita e l'opera. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1964). Milan, 1982, pp. 165, 228, appendix no. 580, ill. and pl. 237, calls it "I Selciatori (The Pavers)"; dates it 1914, based on its stylistic similarities with other works of this year.
Maurizio Calvesi and Ester Coen. Boccioni: L'opera completa. Milan, 1983, pp. 510–11, no. 911, ill. (color), as "I selciatori," 1914; catalogue five sketches for this picture (nos. 912–916; MMA 1990.86; private collection, Milan; MMA 1990.38.29; MMA 1990.38.28; private collection, Tivoli).
Ann Temkin inThe Futurist Imagination: Word + Image in Italian Futurist Painting, Drawing, Collage and Free-Word Poetry. Ed. Anne Coffin Hanson. Exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery. [New Haven], 1983, pp. 31, 83–84, no. 18, colorpl. 3, dates it 1911.
Sandra Berresford. "Book Reviews: Boccioni. L'Opera Completa." Burlington Magazine 127 (April 1985), p. 239, remarks that although Ref. Calvesi and Coen 1983 date it 1914, the preparatory studies could indicate an earlier date of 1908–10.
Maria Drudi Gambillo and Teresa Fiori, ed. Archivi del futurismo. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1962). Rome, 1986, vol. 2, p. 263, no. 197, ill. p. 208, as "I Selciatori".
Gerald Silk. "At Home with the Future: In New York, Lydia Winston Malbin's Futurist Art Rivals Italy's Best." House & Garden 158 (October 1986), ill. pp. 207–8 (color, installation photos), dates it 1911.
John Dorsey. "New Wing Lifts the Met Into the 20th Century." Sun (Baltimore, Md.) (February 1, 1987), p. 12K, dates it 1911.
Ester Coen. Umberto Boccioni. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1988, pp. 179–81, no. 76A, ill. (color), dates it 1914 for stylistic reasons, adding that after his fellow Futurists criticized his book "Pittura, scultura futuriste," published earlier that year, Boccioni returned here to a divisionist examination of color; states that there are at least four studies for this picture [see Ref. Calvesi and Coen 1983].
Sylvia Hochfield. "Spotlight. Lydia Winston Malbin: A Futurist Eye." Art News 87 (April 1988), ill. p. 91 (color, installation photo).
Giorgio Verzotti. Boccioni: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1989, p. 137, no. 136, ill. (color).
Lisa M. Messinger in "Recent Acquisitions. A Selection: 1989–1990." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 48 (Fall 1990), pp. 66–67, ill. (color), notes that the MMA owns three of four known sketches for this picture [see Ref. Calvesi and Coen 1983].
Livia Velani inOn Dynamism: Works by Umberto Boccioni from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Civiche Raccolte d'Arte del Castello Sforzesco, Milano. Ed. Giovanna Bonasegale. Exh. cat., Galleria Comunale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea. Rome, 1999, pp. 21–22, 72–74, no. 10, ill. and colorpl. VIII, calls it "I Selciatori"; notes that 1914 is the "generally accepted date," adding that its style and form place it late in that year.
Alberto Dambruoso in Maurizio Calvesi and Alberto Dambruoso. Umberto Boccioni: Catalogo Generale delle Opere. Turin, 2016, p. 464, no. 761, ill.
There are five sketches for this painting, three in the MMA collection (1990.38.28, 1990.38.29, 1990.86; Calvesi and Coen 1983, nos. 915, 914, 912) and two in private collections (Calvesi and Coen 1983, nos. 913, 916).
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