Description & Technical information

Aimé Félix Del Marle, also
known as Delmarle or Mac Del Marle, came from Pont-sur-Sambre in
Northern France. He undoubtedly borrowed the surname of his first wife,
Adonia Macq, to create the name 'Mac Del Marle', with which he signed
his works including our 'Passage d'artillerie'.

Del Marle was a
multiform artist, indissociable from the art of the 20th century. He was
recognised and praised for the innovative quality of his artistic
conceptions in movements as varied as Musicalism, Abstraction,
Neoplasticism and Réalités Nouvelles.
He was, above all, the only representative of Futurism in France.

from Brussels in 1913, it was his meeting with Guillaume Apollinaire in
Paris that gave him an introduction to the leaders of the Futurist
avant-garde : Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni. That same year, Gino
Severini shared his studio at 32 Rue Dutot.

1914 is the year he
exhibited at the 30th Salon des Independants in Brussels and when he
produced "Passage d'artillerie" at the front. He signed up to fight for a
utopia of radical change - an ideal he shared with his Futurist
contemporaries. He returned home a month later, wounded and
disillusioned by the ignominies of combat.
He edited an anti-militarist paper titled 'Tac-a-Tac-Teuf-Teuf'.

1917, a meeting with the artist Frantisek Kupka sparked his departure
from the Futurist movement and his move to Abstraction.

Del Marle's Futurist period only lasted a few years (1913-1917), he left
his mark as a leading player of the movement. An erudite and rigorous
painter, he was also an attentive theorist. In 1913, he published the
famous Futurist Manifesto : Against Montmartre : '(...) there are
corpses that must be killed ! Montmartre must be killed. The last
windmills will fall, the twisting coy old streets collapse. Make way for
the Futurist pick ! (...)'

Directed against the folkloric and
winding scenery of Montmartre which inspired and welcomed an entire
pictorial tradition, Del Marle's manifesto castigated the naturalism of
paintings that mimic nature.

In their bid to reject stability,
the Futurist movement guidelines which Del Marle followed were that from
now on modern and industrial shapes should be celebrated. This desire
to innovate resulted in a rejection of classical subjects such as nudes
or figuration. The Futurists created a new iconography in which beauty
was found in the energy of a city and its geometric constructions, in
the thrill of speed and machinery.

'Passage d'artillerie' brings
together the main traits of this avant-garde art. It finds truth in the
diffraction of the subjects caught in motion. The diagonal lines
stretching to the right give a sense of the onward march of horses,
carts and cannons over the cobbles.

We note the perfect geometry
of the black arranged over the brown background. The white highlights
illuminate the composition and lend the scene energy. The geometric
shapes which galvanise the entire scene suggest the tracks left by the
moving cannon while the black lines, sometimes underlined in white,
remind us of the sounds and smells mentioned by Del Marle when he wrote
to Marinetti. For his subject, the artist chooses an oil and gouache
reworking of the charcoal 'L'Effort' which Del Marle produced the
previous year. In the foreground we see a horse energetically pulling a
cannon in a joint effort with a soldier.

The brush stroke
annotations in the upper right of 'Passage d'artillerie' lead us to
believe that inspiration for the scene came from an event Del Marle
witnessed in person : the 110th Infantry passing through Fismes, some 30
kilometres from Rheims, on September 20th, 1914.

In our
'particularly admirable' work, according to Marinetti, the visual trail
left by the movement is more geometric ; the diffraction of the subject
is greater and the representation less figurative than in the 1913
'L'Effort'. Through the interpenetration of the drawings, the sketched
background gives us a taste of the effervescence of the town.

Date:  1914
Period:  20th century
Origin:  France
Medium: Oil, gouache and ink on brown cardboard
Dimensions: 48 x 64 cm (18⁷/₈ x 25¹/₄ inches)

Family of the artist.

Literature: Chicago International Art Exhibition, Exhibition Catalogue, Charles & André Bailly Gallery, 1993, illustrated p.13.
Giovanni Lista, Le Futurisme, Paris, Terrail Eds, 2001. illustrated in color p.107.
Vu du Front, Représenter la Grand Guerre, Exhibition Catalogue,
Sylvie Le Ray-Burini,  Musée de l'Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, Somogy
Eds, Paris 2014, illustrated in color under the n°255, p.284.

Exhibitions: Aimé Félix Del Marle, Drouant Gallery, 52 rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Paris, 1964. Label on the back.
A.F. Del Marle : 40 ans d'avant garde, 1912-1952, Drouart Gallery, 16 rue Grange Batelière, Paris, June 15th - July 14th 1989, n°64. Label on the back.
Chicago International Art Exhibition, Chicago, Charles & André Bailly Gallery, 1993.
Vu du Front, représenter la Grande Guerre, Musée de l'Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris, October 15th 2014 - January 25th, 2015.