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A Futurist-Inspired Screen for the Home

By Nancy Hass

Diego Mayon Cassina Paravento Balla, cassina.com.

The Turin, Italy-born artist Giacomo Balla was among the great early 20th-century Futurists — radical thinkers who venerated the automobile, the airplane and the kinetic, sometimes violent power of modern life. Influenced by Cubism’s fractured light and geometry, as well as the motion of Étienne-Jules Marey’s pioneering chronophotography, Balla captured the era’s dynamism with such paintings as his 1912 “Girl Running on a Balcony” but also turned his brightly hued abstractions into furniture, lampshades and avant-garde clothing.

In 1917, he flipped over a couple of discarded photographs and sketched a folding screen, colouring it with tempera and pencil. The drawing remained unpublished until it appeared in a 1968 Balla monograph, but now Cassina has produced the partition, silk-screened on both sides of an asymmetrically cut wooden armature with satin-brass hinges. The colours pictured here are those that Balla himself specified: a smoldering combination of cinnabar, citron and deep forest. (Another iteration is available in blues and sage green on a white background.) The future, it seems, with all its vivid contradictions, has arrived at last.