Thayaht, Tuffo (1932)


Thayaht's Tuffo is a majestic sculpture in plaster with a metal base. It is almost 3 m in height. It is a streamlined representation of a man diving into water and creating concentric circles around him. The sculpture was shown at the 1932 Biennale shortly after it was produced. In 1936 it was shown at the First National Exhibition of Sport Art in Rome, and there it was selected to be presented at the Olympics in Berlin. When it was rejected for its excessive dimensions, Thayaht produced a second, smaller version of it, which was accepted.

Main Principles

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

  2. The Rationalization of Aesthetics: the Straight Line


Thayaht believed in the principle of 'semplificare per rinnovare' ('simplifying to modernize') [^1] in every aspect of life, which for a Futurist artist, was not separate from art. In this sculpture in particular, we can see the embodiment of this principle, especially in the use of the 'straight line' applied to the representation of a 'modern subject'. In 1934, Thayaht reflected upon Boccioni's aesthetic ideas and how to develop them, in a document entitled 'Sviluppo dei principi boccioniani' (Archivio Mart, Fondo Thayaht, Sep 1934). The main element he considers is the straight line, which was according to Boccioni, 'il solo mezzo che potesse condurre alla verginità primitiva di una nuova costruzione architettonica delle masse o zone scultorie' (Manifesto tecnico della scultura futurista, 11 April 1912). This is according to Thayaht the principle that should be, and was being, reprised and developed by new Fascist art: '[…] esperienze iniziali di un odierno primitivismo, nel quale la linea retta è […] l'elemento essenziale e col quale soggetti modernissimi sono rappresentati, con semplificazioni vigorose e comprensibili a tutti: soggetti modernissimi, dico, per l'appunto quelli che l'Arte così detta 'pura' si dimostra impotente ad affrontare'. Tuffo is one of Thayaht's works in which these principles emerge more clearly. The diver can be considered a modern subject in that it represents a central aspect of modern life and one celebrated by Fascism and fascist art, i.e. sport. The subject is reduced to its essential forms (a straight line, a square, and circles), and we learn from Thayaht's theorization that this simplification also has a 'social' goal, which is making art more understandable for all and therefore more popular. The sculpture, despite this extreme rationalization of its forms, also embodied the principle of dynamism, so central to the avant-gardes and to Futurism. Indeed, it was praised in 1932 as the 'sintesi del corpo umano in movimento verticale discendente' by painter and art critic Fortunato Bellonzi (cit. in Anni 30, 173).


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

Fonti, Daniela (ed.). 2017. Thayaht : un futurista eccentrico : sculture, progetti, memorie. Rome: Manfredi.

Scappini, Alessandra (ed.). 2005. Thayaht: vita, scritti, carteggi. Milan: Skira.


[^1]: It is the title of a document conserved in his archive (written in 1936 or 1938—check).

Laura Pennacchietti