Bruno Munari "Useless Machine", 1945 - 1980

 Bruno Munari, Useless machine

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Author/ School/ Dating:

Bruno Munari (Milano, 1907 - 1998)

Technique and Dimensions:

Anodized aluminium, silk-screen printing, nylon, 140 x 45 cm


On display (inv. no. 717)

Object Type:

Installation; Sculpture


A young Bruno Munari (Milan 1907 – Milan 1998) was part of the Futurist movement, before becoming involved first in the area of Milan gallery Il Milione, where in the mid '30s the Italian abstract art movement was emerging, and subsequently, in 1948, in MAC - Movimento Arte Concreta, the Italian movement for concrete art, which re-examined certain approaches of abstraction within the new historical context.
A great experimenter also within the applied arts, Munari began to make his first Machines in 1933, and in 15 years designed 93 of them, using techniques deriving from industrial mass production. His early works had evocative titles such as Macchine sensibili (Sensitive machines) and Respiro di macchina (Machine’s breath), which later became the ironic Useless machines, highlighting their purely aesthetic function disconnected from any kind of useful functionality.
The sculptures consist of basic geometrical shapes in light materials (the works in the collection use balsa wood sticks and anodised aluminium sheets), painted on each side in different colours in order to emphasise the perceptual instability of the works, which move autonomously through space, sensitive to even the slightest change in the environment where they are placed.
“Personally, I thought it would be interesting to free abstract forms from static paintings and suspend them in the air, joined together in such a way that they inhabit our space with us, sensitive to the actual atmosphere around them”.