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Help an Artist Recreate a Legendary Sculpture Using 3D Printing

Umberto Boccioni's destroyed artwork 'Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement,' could experience a revival, thanks to British artist Matt Smith.
Visualization of how the recreated sculpture might appear in a gallery. Images via, unless otherwise noted

With the help of 3D printing, British artist Matt Smith plans to bring back Umberto Boccioni's lost, 1913 Futurist sculpture, Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement, as a digitally-sculpted reproduction. The 3' 9" work will be printed to scale using industrial technology, with the aim to go on display inside a London gallery later this year.

To fund the work, Smith has launched a Kickstarter campaign where he explains how he will be using photographs of the sculpture, along with Boccioni's drawings, and documentation from the period, to help with his digital pen-modeled reconstruction.


A rare photo of Boccioni's 'Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement' 1913 (via)

The legend surrounding the loss of the original goes something like this: following the artist's death in 1916, it was shown alongside other Boccioni works in a December 1916 - January 1917 memorial exhibition at the Castello Cova. Once the show ended, the artworks were stored in a courtyard—and that's where some of them met their end at the hands of workmen who, unaware of their significance, smashed them to pieces to make it easier to tidy up the area.

Two of the pieces, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space and Development of a Bottle in Space, were saved and rebuilt,but Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement wasn't salvageable. Boccioni created his works in plaster which he found an agreeable—and at the time, modern—medium for his style, but this meant that they weren't very durable when it came to over-zealous workmen.

6" and 3" 3D printed replicas of Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement

The Futurists embraced modernity so it's fitting that a contemporary technology could revive the missing artwork. Boccioni's sculptures invoke the dynamism of the human form in motion, and Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement precluded Boccioni's masterpiece, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. By recreating it, Smith hopes to give this work context and allow art lovers, critics, and historians alike a greater understanding of the artist.


A digital abstract artist, Smith has been heavily influenced by Boccioni and sees this project as an opportunity to give something back. "I first discovered Boccioni's work over 20 years ago as an art student," he says on Kickstarter. "His ability to capture movement and fluidity in sculpture was unlike anything I'd ever seen, and continues to inspire me. On a trip through Italy a few years ago, I learned more about Boccioni's lost sculptures. There was nothing physically remaining of the lost sculptures, just photographs taken by the artist. I was excited to have found out about the work, but equally frustrated that I would never get to see these lost sculptures. I wondered if there was something I could do about that."

Support Smith's campaign to recreate Spiral Expansion of Muscles in Movement here.

Smith's digital art

Visit Matt Smith's website for more from the artist.



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