Francesco Cangiullo

Born 1884, Naples, Italy

Died 1977, Leghorn, Italy

In the visualization of Futurist “words-in-freedom,” Cangiullo was an outstanding figure. In the second half of the Teens and the early Twenties, his work appeared in the pages of Lacerbá, Vela Latina and L’Italia Futurista. His Caffè-concerto alfabeto a sorpresa of 1918 is notable for its wealth of imaginative graphic solutions, even when the literary element remained decisive. His work was clearly influenced by Giacomo Balla, his fellow-painter in Futurist soirées at Giuseppe Sprovieri’s galleries in Rome and Naples in 1914. Like Balla himself—with whom Cangiullo composed “words-in-freedom” in the famous Palpavoce of 1914—he created fully-fledged painted “free-word plates,” in an attempt to create “humanized letters.” Cangiullo reinvented the typography of the printed page in the form of narrative fireworks, borrowing from advertising in a manner typical of the “collage” mentality, as for example in Piedigrotta. Later he began a fantastic deformation of writing, reducing it to an image of its alphabetic origin, visually theatricalized, as in the “surprise alphabet” in Caffè-concerto. He made his debut as a painter and sculptor in Rome in 1914 in the Free Futurist International Exhibition, exhibiting paintings created with Marinetti and Balla, and object sculptures. At the end of the Teens he exhibited “surprise alphabet” plates along with his younger brother Pasqualino.   In 1920 he published the manifesto Futurist Furniture, with “surprise talking and free-word furniture.” He was deeply interested in theater in the early Twenties.