RAM, Industria (1931)
A 1931 oil painting (50x37 cm) currently part of a private collection, Industria by RAM is a realistic representation of an urban, industrial landscape. Like in a Renaissance theatre scene, the image is composed of an architectural background with an undoubtedly modern subject: on the left, a white building which faces tall chimneys and other modern constructions on the right. Some rail tracks and a series of wagons carrying unspecified goods cut through the lower margins, and the contrasting background features a reticulated pavement below and a flat, blue sky above.
A New Theorization of the Relationship Between Subjectivity and Objectivity
The Rationalization of Aesthetics: the Straight Line
Like other contemporary artists such as Mario Sironi (e.g. Periferia con camion, 1920; Paesaggio urbano con camion, 1920-1923; Paesaggio urbano, between the end of the twenties and the beginning of the thirties RAM focused on the representation of modernity. The oil painting entitled Industria is an exemplary case. Painted in 1931, when the artist was an official member of the Tuscan Futurist group together with his brother, Thayhat, Industria was the metaphor of a modern way of life. While at the beginning of the century modernity was embodied by a silent city – as Giorgio de Chirico showed – by the end of the twenties its economic heart had become the ideal subject for this kind of composition. Dignified labour, productivity and innovation are aligned with the Fascist politics of that time, leaving the main square of every city empty and abandoned. This is the scenario traced by RAM, in which national pride – embodied by the Italian flag on the top of one of the buildings – represented the modernisation of the whole society.
In Industria, architecture - rationalist constructions dominated by a strong and contrasting linearity, is the main subject. While the white building on the right – that in some ways recalls Terragni’s Casa del fascio – is mainly horizontal, the tall chimneys on the left are like modern cathedrals attempting to conquer the sky. In order to balance this evident contrast, the painter placed a series of volumetric structures (a tank and other buildings) at the centre of the composition, with a precise vanishing point: the rail tracks that run towards the horizon.
Overall, the composition was a hymn to industry, a sort of updated version of Carrà’s Realismo magico and de Chirico’s Metafisica. Like these artists, RAM reinterpreted the world surrounding him in a contemplative manner: the scene, characterised by a silent rhythm was a solitary cityscape deserted by humans but economically controlled by industrial production.
Negri, Antonello, Bignami, Silvia, Rusconi, Paolo, Zanchetti, Giorgio, and Susanna Ragionieri (eds). 2012. Anni ’30. Arti in Italia oltre il fascismo. Florence: Giunti.
Ragionieri, Susanna (ed.). 2014. Ram La realtà metafisica. Viareggio: Fondazione Matteucci per l’Arte Moderna.