Umberto Boccioni's Elasticity, 1912. Photograph courtesy of Museo del Novecento and the Guggenheim Museum.

Umberto Boccioni's Elasticity, 1912. Photograph courtesy of Museo del Novecento and the Guggenheim Museum.

The Italian Futurists saw themselves as soldiers of speed and mechanics, fighting in the name of progress. F.T. Marinetti’s 1909 Futurist Manifesto was their declaration of war: “We want to demolish museums,” Marinetti wrote. But the Guggenheim Museum in New York still stands, and on February 21, it debuts ”Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe.” On view through September 1, the exhibition showcases more than 300 works spanning three decades and a gamut of disciplines. “The movement celebrated innovation and would have embraced this new era of instant communications,” says the show’s curator, Vivien Greene. Whether Marinetti—who, in his manifesto also noted, “What is the use of looking behind?”—would have embraced the idea of a retrospective is another matter.