In 1906, he briefly moved to Paris, where he studied Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles, before visiting Russia for three months, getting a first-hand view of the civil unrest and governmental crackdowns. Returning to Italy in 1907, he briefly took drawing classes at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Venice. He had first visited the Famiglia Artistica, a society for artists in Milan, in 1901.
Umberto Boccioni was born on 19 October 1882 in Reggio Calabria. His father was a minor government employee, originally from the Romagna region in the north, and his job included frequent reassignments throughout Italy. The family soon relocated further north, and Umberto and his older sister Amelia grew up in Forlì (Emilia-Romagna), Genoa and finally Padua. At the age of 15, in 1897, Umberto and his father moved to Catania, Sicily, where he would finish school. Some time after 1898, he moved to Rome and studied art at the Scuola Libera del Nudo of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma. 
Boccioni’s first major Futurist painting, Riot in the Gallery (1909), remained close to pointillism and showed an affiliation with Futurism mainly in its violent subject matter and dynamic composition. The City Rises (1910–11), however, is an exemplary Futurist painting in its representation of dynamism, motion, and speed. The swirling human figures in its crowd scenes are repetitively fragmented according to the Futurist style, but the rhythmic muscular energy they generate is unrelated to the Futurist cult of the machine.
Boccioni was trained from 1898 to 1902 in the studio of the painter Giacomo Balla, where he learned to paint in the manner of the pointillists. In 1907 he settled in Milan, where he gradually came under the influence of the poet Filippo Marinetti, who launched the Futurist movement, which glorified the dynamism of modern technology. Boccioni adapted Marinetti’s literary theories to the visual arts and became the leading theoretician of Futurist art. In 1910 he and other painters drew up and published the “ Manifesto of the Futurist Painters,” promoting the representation of the symbols of modern technology—violence, power, and speed.
Boccioni became the main theorist of the artistic movement. “Only when Boccioni, Severini and a few other Futurists traveled to Paris and saw what Braque and Picasso had been doing did the movement begin to take real shape.” He also decided to be a sculptor after he visited various studios in Paris, in 1912, including those of Georges Braque, Alexander Archipenko, Constantin Brâncuși, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, August Agero and, probably, Medardo Rosso. In 1912 he exhibited some paintings together with other Italian futurists at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, and the following year returned to show his sculptures at the Galerie La Boétie: all related to the elaboration of what Boccioni had seen in Paris, they in their turn probably influenced the Cubist sculptors, especially Duchamp-Villon.
The little known about his years in Rome is found in the autobiography of his friend Gino Severini (1883-1966), who recalled their meeting in 1901 and mutual interest in Nietzsche, rebellion, life experiences and socialism. Boccioni’s writings at this time already express the combination of outrage and irony that would become a lifelong characteristic. His critical and rebellious nature, and overall intellectual ability, would contribute substantially to the development of the Futurism movement. After building a foundation of skills, having studied the classics through Impressionism, both he and Severini became students of Giacomo Balla (1871-1958), a painter focusing on the modern Divisionist technique, painting with divided rather than mixed color and breaking the painted surface into a field of stippled dots and stripes. Severini wrote “It was a great stroke of luck for us to meet such a man, whose direction was decisive of all our careers.”
Severini and Boccioni became pupils of Giacomo Balla (1871-1958). Through Balla they came to learn about Divisionism, the optical colour theory behind Seurat’s and Signac’s Neo-impressionism. They also came into contact with Vittore Grubicy, the powerhouse behind Italian Divisionism (1890-1907). Boccioni then spent some time in Paris and Venice (at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Venice) before moving to Milan. In Milan Boccioni found a forward-looking city, which was not entrenched in old fashioned artistic styles. Here he met the artists Romolo Romani and Gaetano Previati who introduced him to Pointillism and Symbolism. He also became acquainted with the founder of Futurism and its chief theorist, the Italian writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944).
Initially Boccioni focused on painting. In his famous canvas The City Rises (1910) he attempted to synthesize the complex visual imagery triggered by everyday urban experience. In 1911 he visited Paris and came into contact with Picasso, Braque and Cubism. This experience led him to rework some of his paintings for the first Paris showing of Futurist art in early 1912. Although Boccioni was impressed with Cubism, he transformed the style into something very different from what he found in Paris. His triptych States of the Mind: The Farewells, Those Who Stay, Those Who Go (1911-12, Museum of Modern Art New York), pictured the sensations evoked by a railway journey; it dominated the exhibition and remains his best painting piece. Other important paintings include:
Boccioni (1882-1916) is widely acknowledged to have been the most significant visual artist associated with Futurism. Equally gifted as a writer, he was also one of the movement’s most important theorists, and played a leading role in drafting a number of its key statements. Born in Calabria, Boccioni settled in Rome in 1899 where he met Gino Severini while attending classes at the Scuola Libera del Nudo. Like Severini, he was instructed in the Divisionist technique by Giacomo Balla, and became an accomplished exponent of the style. Symbolism and Expressionism also exerted important influences on his early work.
Yet whilst this superficially ‘modernised’ Boccioni’s imagery in the short term, it was to have little l asting impact on his artistic vision. This was largely due to his fascination with the philosophy of Henri Bergson, who argued that intuition and subjective experience – rather than rational analysis – offered the most authentic means of understanding reality. For Boccioni, the multiple perspectives of Cubist painting enabled the viewer to accumulate information about an object’s physical properties, but had little to say about its essence or ‘interior force’, as perceived by the true artist.