Lucio Fontana, Rosario de Santa Fé 1899 - 1968 Comabbio
Spatial Concept, 1956
ProvenanceGrosso Collection, Turin.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 29 June 1994, lot 27.
LiteratureE. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, Brussels 1974, vol. II, no. 56 BA 33 (illustrated with incorrect orientation, p. 51).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo generale, Milan 1986, vol. I, no. 56 BA 33 (illustrated with incorrect orientation, p. 175).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, tomo I, Milan 2006, vol. I, no. 56 BA 33 (illustrated, p. 328).
Painted when Art Informel was ascendant, Concetto spaziale reveals Fontana’s involvement with the movement. Indeed, the work offers a pictorial representation of his own artistic development. Its painterly aspects seem to ground it in material reality, whilst its effervescent punctures speak to his enduring preoccupation with the void. Consumed with his search for a new visual idiom befitting the nascent Space Age, Fontana saw these holes as a continuing evolution of the buchi that he had pioneered less than a decade earlier, and which would come to define much of his legacy. Fontana sought a distinct visual language that embraced the wonders of the universe, yet he understood that art-making was not atemporal and remained tethered to the past. Accordingly, he connected his revolutionary Spatialism to Baroque art’s own radical upheaval, explaining that ‘it is necessary to overturn and transform painting, sculpture and poetry. A form of art is now demanded which is based on the necessity of this new vision. The Baroque has guided us in this direction, in all its as yet unsurpassed grandeur, where the plastic form is inseparable from the notion of time, the images appear to abandon the plane and continue into space the movements they suggest. This conception arose from man’s new idea of the existence of things; the physics of that period reveal for the first time the nature of dynamics. It is established that movement is an essential condition of matter as a beginning of the conception of the universe. At this point of evolution the requirements of movement were so powerful that the plastic arts were unable to respond’ (L. Fontana, Manifesto tecnico dello Spazialismo, trans. C. Damiano, 1951, reproduced in L. Massimo Barbero (ed.), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York, 2006, p. 229).
Just as technological advancement during the seventeenth century encouraged artists to imbue their canvases with a sense of motion, so too did Fontana push against the supposed limits of pictorial representation. The invention of the buchi drastically altered preconceptions of art's permanency, opening up the infinite space beyond the canvas and infusing it with gestural dynamism. In the present work, however, these visionary apertures are countered by thick, visceral layers of pigment, returning the viewer to the static earthbound realm. Uniting painterly tradition with his radical idea of 'spatial concepts' (concetti spaziali), the work gestures simultaneously to art's past and future, anticipating its long-awaited flight from the material world to the immaterial void.