Born in 1888 into an industrial age full of machines, the young Antonia Sant’Elia began to articulate the collective obsession with the future through his remarkable sketched designs for the idealised city.
Sant’Elia had an almost comic-book, sci-fi sensibility about his drawings, and yet his aesthetic was also one of respect for a distant medieval tradition of ‘honest’ Romanesque forms.
Antonio Sant’Elia took the aesthetics of the 18th Century and brought them into the 20th Century, where new materials like glass, steel and concrete meant that the sky was the limit.
Although he was associated with the Italian Futurists, the young socialist didn’t share the Fascist sentiments of this movement, especially their love of violence and war. So it is, perhaps, especially tragic that the young Sant’Elia died at the age of 28 during World War I, with none of his most ambitious designs realised.
However the power of his imagination survives remarkably well, and his images remain a source of influence and intrigue in the 21st Century.
© 2012, Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN