Photography, theatre and the cinema provided the creative spaces through which the Bragaglia brothers navigated. Extraordinary and highly precocious, they were on the lookout for new intellectual lands to conquer. Arturo and Carlo Ludovico’s first photographic experiences date back to 1908, when they were, respectively, fifteen and fourteen years old. Two years later, they began to presage the Futurist movement with their famous “Futurist photodynamics”, the earliest example of experimental photography.
Seventeen pictures were collected in the slim volume entitled Fotodinamismo Futurista and which included a preface by their older brother Anton Giulio whose brilliant theory concerning the revolutionary idea however was not followed up. While Arturo was skilled at developing and printing, behind the viewfinder, Carlo Ludovico set off down an non-conformist path, breaking up the fixed image, no doubt attracted by futurist theories. Anton Giulio was the brain that linked the pictures with texts and where, with youthful playfulness and not a little confusing of terms and characters, he drew on the experience of Muybridge and Marey.
The Futurists, and especially Boccioni, would reject photography as an art form as it was produced by an idolatrous machine, the insistent subject of their works, a contradiction which would lead the brothers to abandon their experiments.
In 1916 and 1917, Anton Giulio made two films: Thaïs and Perfido Incanto, which were milestones in the history of the cinema. In 1918, with Carlo Ludovico, he founded La Casa d’Arte Bragaglia, the first Italian example of a private gallery where the great artists of the 1900’s could exhibit their works. In 1923, Anton Giulio, again with his brother Carlo Ludovico, set up the Teatro degli Indipendenti, yet another example of futurist ideas as the theatre was transformed into a luxury restaurant once performances was over.
In 1930, the brothers separated and each set out on his own career, following his own interests. Anton Giulio went into theatre and met with resounding success while Carlo Ludovico dedicated himself to directing films and became one of the most prolific film makers, making 63 films in 32 years.
Arturo inherited the photographic business in 1923 and opened a studio in Rome where he would become a top supporting actor on the Italian screen. Having failed to be accepted by the Futurists, the Bragaglia brothers did not understand that they had created a completely avant-garde style of photography which broke all the rules of taste and which for many decades remained unrecognised by the critics.
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