Degree Date



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


History of Art


A major theme in works by later Italian Futurists of the 1930s was what was called aero-aesthetics in which the artists drew their inspiration from the act and fantasy of aviation. Focusing on the perception of aeropainting, or a eropittura, within both Futurism and Fascism, I am concerned in this dissertation to examine the role of the feminine within the idea of machine aesthetics and especially the ways in which women of the movement attempted to interrupt or realign the gendered understandings of technology and aviation within the culture as a whole. Here it has been helpful to draw on particular notions of the body and the gaze found within post-modernism to argue that certain of its positions are prefigured within this area of production. The first chapter examines Futurism’s fascination with flight and argues that while many Futurist aeropainters sympathized with Fascism’s celebration of aviation technology as a means to visual and military domination, some women aeropainters chose to emphasize elements of the non-visual in their work. The second chapter argues that women aeropainters interrupted the cultural discourse of masculinity surrounding aviation by participating in the physical act of aviation and by redeploying ideas about dynamic machines in the service of an art that saw the expansion of creative liberty as the greatest consequence of Futurist aero aesthetics. The third and fourth chapters will look more closely at two of these women Futurists whose paintings demonstrate opposing political and theoretical views. Chapter three will situate Benedetta Cappa Marinetti’s art in the context of her relationships to F.T. Marinetti and Giacomo Balla to demonstrate how her abstract painting reveals a pre-essentialist position that reinterprets Futurist ideas in her celebration of the feminine. Chapter four will introduce Marisa Mori to English-language scholarship and examine how her introspective art frequently resists notions of biological determinism.


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