Sculpted in 1913, final exhibition in 1924, Galleria Bottega di Poesia, Milan, destroyed in 1927 in Acquabella, Milan.
Modified after Paris
Speeding muscles is a rarity when it comes to visual documentation. It appears in just three historical photographs, two of which were taken at the 1913 Paris exhibition (the second replicates the first, but in smaller scale), and one at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1, 2). Luckily, they complement each other in such a way that extraordinarily little is left to guesswork when attempting a reconstruction (3). This is also helped by the resolution of the available photos, which is absolutely stunning.
The only detail that differs in the Paris and San Francisco photographs is a small protruding structure at the upper back of the head. The final reconstruction is based on the later San Francisco image of 1915, in which this element seems to have been modified.
The plaster surface of this sculpture is considerably rougher than in the other striding sculptures. This indicates that Boccioni went from idea to finished shape very rapidly. Similarly to Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, there are places in the feet where parts of the sculpture could be detached, thereby facilitating transportation. These are not reproduced in the recreated sculpture.
A revised full-scale version of Speeding Muscles has been 3D printed and assembled (4).
[Published February 2023]