Signer in 1910 of the Manifesto of Futurist Painters and of the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, Luigi Russolo was present in 1912 at the first Parisian Futurist collective at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery. In 1915 he enlisted as a volunteer in the war. In December 1917 he was seriously injured in the head, undergoing a long hospitalization. The resumption of artistic activity after the tragic experience at the front is guided by a firm intention to revise the analytical process, decomposing and dynamic, emblematic of the futurist phase, in favor of a "broad, broad and synthetic plastic vision". The rehearsals of the Twenties, therefore, are characterized by the short, broken, impetuous brushstroke and by the bright and violent contrasts typical of Futurist canvases and by an unprecedented volumetric component on which that emotional and introspective tension is grafted more than ever evident in the self-portraits. The whole work then reverberates the lively feeling of a musician devoted to experimentation, as well as the interest, always cultivated, for the occult sciences and oriental philosophies.
Self -portrait , datable between 1920 and 1925, denotes Russolo's predisposition to instant graphic rendering, without second thoughts, which determined his success as an engraver. The intersection of signs is exalted in a network of angry lashes of coal, superimposed on the more fluid pictorial texture of sanguine and pastel to mark the shadow areas and baste the undisciplined hair. The vehement treatment of the surfaces identifies a harsh monochrome, emphasized by the disharmonious interference of the black and red pencil textures that describe a hallucinated physiognomy. With an impetuous, rough and essential workmanship, the sharp and suffering face floats on the sheet as if suspended in a void of the soul. The ferociously inquiring gaze, altered, though proud and attentive, scrutinizes itself with merciless sincerity, lingering on the sunken eye sockets and expression lines, sketching the rest.
On the back of the work two charcoal sketches: a hint of a face and a more complete nude study, substantiated by a soft and sinuous pictorial drawing that delicately caresses the model's curves.