34 Depictions Of How People In The Past Envisioned Life Now

Published January 23, 2018
Updated September 21, 2018

From family flying saucer rides to domestic living on the lunar surface, these gorgeous retrofuturism illustrations reveal how our ancestors thought their future might look.

1950s Painting Of The Future
House Of Tomorrow Painting
Retrofuturism Transportation Painting
Man In A Futuristic Suit Feeds A Woman
34 Depictions Of How People In The Past Envisioned Life Now
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The loosely defined artistic movement of Futurism brought the future to the forefront. Reimagining and interpreting the past was not of interest to these artists. Instead, they imagined technology, architecture, and machines in new ways, and portrayed - in abstraction - how these would affect humanity.

The birth of the movement, however, was not as innocent as its muse. Futurism was brought into existence in 1909 by the Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who declared that young futurists wanted nothing to do with the past. This poet’s manifesto was as polarizing as it was passionate, and his call to action was much more controversial than one might imagine.

As it turns out, he wasn’t only hoping for an artistic revolution, but something much deeper. Marinetti introduced Futurism as a way to unite Italy from its divided state - which sounds great - except his ideals were rooted in fascism with an ultimate goal of helping to spawn a political revolution based on authoritarianism.

Though Futurism spanned all artistic ventures - music, film, dance, even cooking - not all of its followers were fascists. The futuristic aesthetic based largely in Cubism spread to Russia and England and inspired other artistic movements such as Art Deco and Surrealism. Though artistically the influences of Futurism were long-lasting, the political ideals behind it pretty much died out by the middle of the 20th century.

Decades later came a more optimistic and whimsical American version of Futurism. The subject matter was very similar, but with a dash of realism, clean lines and thoughtful intent.

Retrofuturism was catapulted with the founding of NASA in 1958 and provided us with many ideas of what the future had in store, both in space and on Earth. It prevailed in advertisements, science fiction illustrations, and films.

When the 50s and 60s became “retro,” so did this view of Futurism. The term Retrofuturism was coined, and looking back with nostalgia on it now, many scenarios it predicted have been realized. For example, the smartphones we carry with us encompass many past predictions in the ease of communication. For some other ideas, let's just say we're still waiting for our chicken pot pie pill.

Now that you've leanred about Retrofuturism, learn more about NASA's space colony art. Then read about the possible future of food.

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a freelance writer, artist and video editor that splits her time between the humid Midwest and the dusty corners of her mind.
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