From Cavalli to Crali. The “mystery” of the (lost) futurist books

From Cavalli to Crali. The “mystery” of the (lost) futurist books
From Cavalli to Crali. The “mystery” of the (lost) futurist books
We know the better future we have left behind. The best of futurism, however, we have lost. Almost. Editorial futurism thrives on crazy, unobtainable, inimitable, mythologized books with inflated, highly sought-after prices. Everyone looks for them, occasionally someone finds himself. For example: yellow and blue (the title is like this: in capital letters only Azzurro), a book by Armando Cavalli (1893-1950) – a futurist only for a breath of years around the First World War – over time ghost. The book was printed in 1915 in a Faenza printing house, perhaps in one hundred and one hundred and twenty copies. So, it exists. That it cannot be found, “no” (very few of the original copies have been saved, but, as his librarian Roberto Palazzi taught, every book is “findable”: if it is printed sooner or later it can be found). The fact remains that it is very rare. Eight copies of the work are known in as many public libraries, others perhaps in private hands. But how many? And where? The book, on which the great collectors of futurism drool, is in itself a simple dossier of about fifty pages, purple cover without writing, nothing but paper. But for the typographic aesthetics it is a jewel: pages punctuated by free words, in different characters and bodies, which alternate with blank pages, until they fade into an “impalpable white” … In short, an unmissable book. And precisely because it was lost, the “Pontremoli” antiquarian bookshop in Milan, the sancta sactorum of futurism, today publishes an anastatic edition in 130 numbered copies: Armando Cavalli, il giallo e l’A Azzurro (Libreria Antiquaria Pontremoli, pp. 80, euro 35) with a very learned introduction by Antonio Castronuovo and an afterword – sparkling, as usual – by Pablo Echaurren (yes, it was he who shouted: “My kingdom for a Cavalli!”). Now it is the anastatica to be unmissable.

But on the bibliophile-collecting front, the event is not unique. Passing from the first to the second (or third …) futurism, another lost text of the movement is reborn. It is Aeromusiche d’alfabeto in liberty, a volume made in a single copy in February 1944 and composed of six free word plates painted by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Tullio Crali (1910-2000) and Raoul Cenisi, a Dalmatian transplanted to Gorizia. That single copy was donated by Crali to Marinetti, who unfortunately was unable to get it published in time by the ERRE Editions. The specimen then ended up in the hands of a Roman antiquarian and sold to the American collector Mitchell Wolfson Jr. In short, disappeared. In the 1980s Crali decided to pack two more virtually identical copies, one for himself and another given to the third artist involved in the project, Raoul Cenisi. Well. Now that book-object is reproduced by the Biblohaus publishing house in a limited edition (50 numbered copies, at 400 euros each), accompanied by the essay-memorial by Domenico Cammarota Con Crali the Futurist (pp. 278, 15 euros). And so Futurism finds a piece of its past.

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