Tullio Crali, Incuneandosi nell'abitato (1939)


Incuneandosi nell'abitato is one of the most famous Futurist aeropaintings. It portrays some buildings seen from above, from the point of view of a pilot who is dangerously 'nosediving' on the city. The point of view is set just behind the pilot, so we can see his head and shoulders and the inside of a cockpit from which one can see outside, not only through the front glass, but also through the side walls and even the ceiling.

Main Principles

  1. A New Theorization of the Relationship Between Subjectivity and Objectivity

  2. The Rationalization of Aesthetics: the Straight Line


This work is emblematic of the strand of aeropainting concerned with depicting reality from an aerial perspective, thus conveying the physical and sensorial experience of flying. This strand emerged in works by Futurist artists, such as Tullio Crali, Tato, Benedetta and Gerardo Dottori, as opposed to that of 'cosmic idealism' developed by Prampolini, Fillia, Mino Rosso, and others. In these works, the artist's subjectivity sees and depicts reality from a new perspective which can be achieved thanks to the human conquest of the skies, accomplished by means of technological progress. This theme holds an immense power of suggestion, because it encapsulates modernity, speed and dynamism, and the idea of overcoming human limits—all themes privileged by Futurist artists. Aeropainting was indeed a new aesthetics developed by the artists of Second Futurism, and theorised by Filippo T. Marinetti, in an attempt to align themselves closely to the values championed by Fascism in their effort towards modernization, of which the celebration of aviation and of the national air force was an important part. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Italo Balbo and his team had successfully carried out a series of transatlantic flights, thereby uniting Italy with rest of the world to affirm its ascendency and technological power. The regime and Marinetti celebrated him and his enterprises as a symbol of Fascist modernity and triumph. Aeropaintings also often evoke the theme of warfare, constituting another nexus between Fascism and Futurism.

The city we see through the eyes of the artist-pilot is a modern city, made of tall buildings and skyscrapers: the perspective is reversed and so is the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity. The urban environment is depicted through a rationalization of forms: the buildings are cubes; some of them have lines of square holes on their facades, which are the windows. The city thus becomes a set of geometric shapes. The perspective is emphasized to create an extreme sense of dynamism and the impression that the aircraft is extremely close to the buildings, and that a crash is imminent. The audacity and disregard for danger thus conveyed are again emblematic of Fascist as well as Futurist rhetoric.


Aa. Vv. 1982. Annitrenta: arte e cultura in Italia. Milan: Comune di Milano, Ripartizione cultura e spettacolo.

Esposito, Fernanado. 2015. Fascism, Aviation and Mythical Modernity. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rebeschini, Claudio. 2017. Aeropittura. La seduzione del volo. Milan: Skira.

Laura Pennacchietti