This object was featured in Object of the Day on Feb. 10, 2015, and has been recently updated with new cataloging information.

Fillìa was the adopted name of Italian Futurist artist Luigi Colombo (1904–1936). Fillìa’s association with the Futurists began with the second generation that rose to prominence during the 1920s. This next wave of artists gave the movement a much needed infusion of avant garde spirit after the death or defection of several Futurist founders. Their work and ideas departed from the “heroic” strains of early Futurism that saw the modern individual as fully transformed by machinery, industry, science, and modern communication networks.

Fillìa was the creator of this unique Futurist textile hanging, which came into the collection in the late 1950s. It was made at a time when the Futurists were working and experimenting with all types of media in an effort to create “opera d’arte totale” or a “total work of art.” Interest in architecture and interior design flourished during this period as the Futurists sought to conceive complete spaces. The Futurists from Turin, a group founded by Fillìa, favored forms of mural decoration for interiors. They promoted this form of design in direct response to the perceived coldness of modern surfaces.

An embroidered inscription in the lower left corner reads “S.I.R.E.”. A recent examination of digital photos of Italian felt patchwork berets from the same period revealed an attached label printed with the same name. S.I.R.E. was a workshop in Turin that specialized in creating works of art and design using felt. Cooper Hewitt’s felt patchwork panel shows a central figure of man in profile surrounded by a kaleidoscopic arrangement of concentric circles and rectangles, perhaps reflecting Fillìa’s belief that machinery or “mechanical civilization” had a spiritually dominant role that directed human activity.


Kimberly Randall is Collections Manager for the Textiles Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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