Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
The Illegalists
Artistic voice: Umberto Boccioni, 1912, Paris
Oil on canvas, 98.5 x 99.5 cm

»The story of the attack by the notorious, anarchist Bonnot gang on the Société Générale bank in 1911 must have blazed through the highly visual imagination of the young Boccioni: a car in the crowd, the armed attack, the blood, the gunshots, the panic, the drama, the car at high speed, the police chase ... We find ourselves just a few weeks before the exhibition in the Bernheim-Jeune gallery that will show to the world the explosive power of Italian Futurism painting: a shock – but Boccioni will not have time to create a painting inspired by the raid. Over a century later, Beltracchi records the event. It is the sacred right of an intelligent and highly creative artist to “play” with the artists of the past. Or in reality is it a challenge of painting and its history, a kind of “duel” between two artists? Here, too, Beltracchi has numerous predecessors, including some of the most creative artists of all time. Between you and me, I recommend looking at the freedom, courage, passion and the quality of the painting. Now that the painting is in front of us, the verdict lies with us alone.«

Andrea Bellieni, Director and Conservator of the Museo Correr, Venice

The first robbery using a car as an escape vehicle was committed by an anarchist gang led by Jules Bonnot in December 1911. They shot down a guard at the Société Générale bank, fired warning shots into a crowd and drove off in a stolen Delaunay-Belville, built in 1910. The police soon had to give up their pursuit by bicycle and on horseback. For several months, the gang carried out spectacular raids in Paris. The city was also where the first futurist exhibition opened, which itself was intended as a raid on the established art scene. The present time was to be recorded as an intoxication of speed; movement is simultaneously depicted in the painting in fragmented forms.