The Futurist movement was officially launched by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in Italy in 1909. The phrase "the art of the future" first appeared in the Russian press in 1908, a year before the official appearance of the word "Futurism". It was applied to the works of the Link and Triangle groups -- Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova, Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, Alexandra Exter and the Burliuk brothers. The critics were initially benevolent towards the young painters, particularly the "revolutionary" Burliuks: "Their works are, in all respects, unprecedented, though they already have antecedents in the West."

The attention of the critics was focussed less on the works of David Burliuk and more on those of his brother Vladimir, as well as Aristarkh Lentulov, whose "attempts to renew painting technique" were "extremely interesting". At the end of his review of the Golden Fleece exhibition, one writer raved: "This is the art of the future, the art of brave and inevitable quests for innovative artistic creativity ... Although our artistic 'revolutionaries' have perhaps not yet reached essential renewal, their attempts are already making us think. They are the ferment from which a new artistic-psychological school may soon arise." [7] Such enthusiasm and optimism were, however, swamped by the following opinions: "All these young forces waste themselves in senseless affectations, aspiring to outdo one another in terms of absurdity of concept and execution, instead of attempting to introduce a little bit of sorely needed beauty into life."

The Russian press was quick to respond to Marinetti's proclamation of Italian Futurism in February 1909. The Russian reaction to the Futurist Manifesto was a bout of vehement patriotism: "There is no need to envy the Italian Futurists. We ourselves will 'teach the teachers' all about modern themes and execution." [9] This was the reaction of "M. S.", who first translated the word Futurist -- "Not to be mixed with Fourierists or Footballers" -- into Russian as buduschnik. The ironic comments in the press were joined by others predicting the imminent end of Futurism (as they had earlier and would again later): "It seems highly doubtful that this movement will justify its name and conquer the future."

The word Futurism enjoyed a relatively long life in the newspaper columns, where it alternated with Cubism. The term Ego-Futurism was also popular, thanks to the poet Igor Severyanin, though his affected and decadent oeuvre had little in common with Futurism, either in word or in spirit. The word Neo-Futurist appeared later, possibly inspired by Alexander Shevchenko's brochure Neo-Primitivism. It never established itself, however, only providing ammunition for caustic comments: "Before the Futurists have even managed to 'open out' their petals, the 'Neo-Futurists' have come to replace them. The Futurists do not seem to be able to go any further, while the impossible has proved to be possible for the Neo-Futurists." Marinetti himself visited Russia in 1914 and noted the differences between Russian and Italian Futurism -- the Russian Futurists did not reject the past, aspiring instead towards their ancient roots, including national ones. In his speech on Russian Futurism, Marinetti "called it not Futurism, but savageism, and its adherents not Futurists, but savageists, not buduschniki but primevals."

Although the newspapers wrote at length about the young art rebels, they did not initially know what name to "brand" them. A journalist described David Burliuk reading a lecture with "a brutal 'Cubist' expression on his face." A more expressive definition, however, was soon found -- Futurist.

The word Futurist was applied to all those who "consciously reject the most elementary traditions and continuity in the relatively narrow sphere of their own art." [14] Futurism became a cliché for anything outrageous, incomprehensible, absurd and ludicrous in art life. The infamous promenades of artists with painted faces (Mikhail Larionov and his comrades in 1913) or with wooden spoons in their button-holes (Kazimir Malevich and Alexei Morgunov in 1914) on the streets of Moscow became the targets for sardonic articles and newspaper caricatures.

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