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Intersection of design and politics

Design has always been utilized in politics to communicate a specific message to an audience; flags with identifying colors, shapes, and symbols are used to represent entire nations. Each nation creating a unique style of art representing their culture and history. Historical design movements are often seen as a reaction to the politics and culture at the time. Italian Futurism emerged around 1909 with the publishing of a manifesto by poet and propagandist F.T. Marinetti; Futurism served as a response to the autonomous state of art in society, the rejection of tradition, and the emphasis on innovation and technology. In “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism” Marinetti declared Futurist art would act as an incendiary device, upholding  the new values of speed, destruction, and violence necessary for a new age of Italian glory. The rise of Futurism was in direction connection with the rise of fascism; in 1929 Marinetti accepted the prestigious appointment from Mussolini to the Academia d’Italia. From the start Futurist values embodied a nationalist campaign of war and destruction that found representation in Italian fascism. The movement sought to violently annihilate the past and undertake an aesthetic revolution of politics and everyday life. Futurism’s goal to create a new social order through the intersection of art and politics was destined to fail from the start; conflict between the movement and the Fascist regime stems from discrepancies between the aesthetic and political principals of the Futurist project. Specifically Futurism’s aesthetic vision of politics that came to be disappointed by the regime’s inevitable turn toward autonomy and compromise. Art historical accounts today attempt to downplay the question of political influence in favor of the role of Futurist aesthetic innovations in the legacy of modernism. It seems that most commonly that the relationship between Futurism and fascism is ignored entirely through implicit assumptions about the separation of art and politics. In a major Futurist exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1961 Joshua Taylor writes that “the nature of the Futurist impulse in politics … should not influence the assessment of its achievement in art. “  Another way some forms of media attempt to downplay the political aspect of Futurism is relating it to a later, less aesthetically important phase of the movement. The intersection of design and politics can be used to create and advertise messages that inspire positive change; this power can also be used to send messages with divisive rhetoric to misinform and persuade audiences. Political influences in design can be seen throughout history and continue to play a significant role in design today.

Portrait of F.T. Marinetti by Enrico Prampolini
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