Le mots en liberté futuristes

Le mots en liberté futuristes

Listening to the lectures and seeing pictures of the books on a screen was one thing but having those same books at one’s fingertips was another. Oddly enough, I was drawn to Les mots en liberté futuristes, by F.T. Marinetti. I say oddly for when looking at Futurism in the lectures, I was far from attracted to their style. I was thrown off by the inconsistency of the letters and their sizes that created a busy atmosphere. However, when coming across the cover of Les mots en liberté futuristes I was completely drawn to it.

I found the direction, typefaces and color of the words to be a harmonious chaos. Even though it displayed strong differences, the cover also displayed great cohesiveness. The book itself was very lightweight and fragile. The book was made up of sheets of paper with a, slightly, sturdier piece as the cover that was all bound together with string. Not to mention, the cover had a sleek feel, and if you looked at it at just the right angle, you could catch a gleam of reflection in it. The rest of the pages had a soft grain on its surface that were yellowed at the edges. I attempted to open the book with great care and even then, it felt as if it could crumble to pieces at my touch. I got a sense that it was a book that was put to use on an everyday basis. Its size was not big thus making it very portable.

As for its content, I flipped and sorted through the pages and noticed that there was a lot of bolded text along with different letter sizes within a singular word. It made me think of how students in this millennium go through scholarly texts and annotate it to bring attention to important details. I may not speak French, but I know that if I went through and saw the differing typography, I would know what the surrounding text would be about. There were also mathematical symbols that were paired with words that I did not quite understand. It gave the impression of an equation yet one that was difficult to understand, maybe it’s why Marinetti chose to mirror math.

The table also had larger sheets that were unfolded from the book that appeared to be poster-like. They held large, dark figures and letters that caught an onlooker’s eye, and the background had repetitive text or what appeared to be sounds. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at these pages of incomprehensiveness. I sat and enjoyed the varying typography and the details surrounding it. Despite these pages being “main attractions,” I was most intrigued by the layout of the pages that held diagrams. It gave organization to the given text in order to facilitate the course in which your eyes followed. Just as the cover and the other workings throughout the book, these diagrams provided visual direction to already given information. Personally, when I take notes for a class, I follow a similar structure to what the pages demonstrated which is why I believe I found myself so drawn and connected with Le mots en liberté futuristes.

As I mentioned before, I initially was not fond of the Futurist movement but soon came to appreciate it. Ultimately, whether it was in my interest or not, it does not change the fact that Marinetti left an everlasting impact. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti is referred to as the founder of the Futurist movement. Marinetti was seeking to incorporate sounds, images and the energy of modern life into art. “He soon developed parole in libertà (words-in-freedom), a radical form of writing based on the destruction and reconfiguration of words and sounds.” (Metmuseum.org). The development set into motion a revolution in modern art thus setting the stage for future works in this time period.

Upon taking a look to various art museum websites it is apparent that the book is valued for its illustrations and writing. Les mots en liberté futuristes is an embodiment of the art shift. It strongly displays an ingenious typographic design and explosive layout, according to “Book Illustration, Les Mots En Liberté Futuristes (Futurist Words in Freedom), Mon Ami, Ma Petite (My Friend, My Little), 1919.”  Fragmentations in words and distortions in size, shape and form are the strong visual aspects. Not to mention, it was also said that it was a pioneering example of the avant-garde artists who used typography and page layout for visual or concrete poetry.

In larger context, Futurism was also the time period where society was inviting progress and modernity. It was a machine age that sought dynamic visions for the future, and what better way than through visual communication? This particular book fits perfectly into the category of Design/Art history because of the direct correlation between the audience and design of the book mentioned before. Without it, there would be a gap in the design timeline and history itself. The impact the book had was of great influence, one that shouted for innovation and influenced all other art movements afterwards.

In terms of Marinetti himself, the book further established his role as a leader in the art movement. In 1909, Marinetti published “The Manifesto of Futurism” which was a defining milestone. Le mots en liberté futuristes was written in reflection of this 1909 publication. It displayed all of what Marinetti was calling for, and with the publication done by Edizioni futuriste di “Poesia,” Marinetti was able to amplify and spread a design with a visual and aural cacophony. The book was written in 1919, but in 1918 he founded the Futurist Political party, so it meant he had tangible support upon the release of it as well.

It is without a doubt that Marinetti was able to realize his cry for a revolutionary art and a cry against convention through the publication of Les mots en liberté futuristes. He was also a poet and his development of parole in libertà allowed him to express himself and expand an audience’s sensory dynamics. Marinetti is definitely a crucial figure that exhibited forthcoming views on modernism and did so in a way that went against the norms but held true to the ingenuity taking place with the machinery around the time period.




“Book Illustration, Les Mots En Liberté Futuristes (Futurist Words in Freedom), Mon Ami, Ma Petite (My Friend, My Little), 1919.” Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68776017/.

“Futurism Movement Overview.” The Art Story, www.theartstory.org/movement/futurism/.

Metmuseum.org, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/345670.

The title of the book, Le mots en liberté futuristes.

One of the foldouts that came from the book. It was unfolded and placed on the table for display.

One of the pages from the book that displayed two different layouts for information.