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Anchored by the heart of Maria



Arturo Bragaglia


1893 - 1962


Arturo Bragaglia and his elder brother Anton Giulio were early experimenters in photomontage, superimposing several negatives to create images that confused space, movement and subject. Their research into photo-dynamism from 1911 was an attempt to record movement in a single long exposure, rather than the fragmented, static and mathematical chronophotographic imagery of Étienne Jules Marey. In his futurist manifesto, Anton declared that they were only interested in movement that produced sensation and in recording the continuity of action in space. Although the brothers were linked to the futurists, after meeting Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni, the group was divided in its support of photography. Boccioni succeeded in expelling the pair from the futurist group in October 1913, despite the artistic backing of Marinetti and Giacomo Balla, and Boccioni’s own short-lived interest in the photodynamic process.

While Anton went on to follow his cinematography and performance interests, Arturo continued his photodynamic research, going on to photograph stage and cinema sets and to include film acting in his artistic resume. ‘Anchored by the heart of Maria’ reflects his interest in the artifice of theatre. The fractured female torso hanging from a hook on the dramatically angled beam is set centre stage; the head, accompanied by other parts, lying on a plinth in the shadows. As the drama unfolds a chair comes into view, implying an absent voyeur; there are also bodily organs (the heart) in the opposite corner and a stool behind the torso indicating that a sinister action has taken place. Together with the three vertical shapes of the window and doors and the dramatic lighting effects, the scene recalls the brothers’ interest in the drama of the occult and séances.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007


Alternative title

Ancorato al cuore di Maria



Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph, vintage


8.3 x 9.0 cm image/sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Patricia Lucille Bernard Bequest Fund 1999


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Arturo Bragaglia

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 publications


Donna Brett, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'The surreal aesthetic', pg.113-129, Sydney, 2007, 114, 120 (illus.).

Giovanni Lista, I futuristi e la fotografia: creazione fotografica e immagine quotidana, Modena, 1985, 27 (illus.). plate no. 39

Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 1999, 'Collections: Photography', pg. 21-22, Sydney, 1999, 21 (illus.).