Concetto Spaziale, 1960-1963
Signed upper right
Registered at the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan, No.3983/1
diameter: 49.7 cm / 19.6 in
New York, Martha Jackson Gallery;
New York, David Anderson Gallery;
New York, The Estate of Jerome and Elaine Kurtz (acquired directly from the above in 1981).
One of the most pioneering artists of the 20th century, Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) continually challenged the boundaries of the role of the artist and the creation of art, through his use of a variety of materials and forms, and actions. Albeit best known for his Concetti Spaziali on canvas clay modelling and ceramics have always been central to his artistic production.
He first produced Buchi (or Concetti Spaziali as he titled them) in 1948/49 and kept experimenting with them until the year of his death in 1968 (with a pause of two years between 1953 and 1955). He transferred this formal solution onto ceramic for the first time in 1951.
One of the most important series in the artist’s oeuvre, Buchi (literally holes) are central to Fontana’s investigation of space. As he declared in an interview, ‘When I hit the canvas I sensed that I had made an important gesture. It was, in fact, not an incidental hole, it was a conscious hole: by making a hole in the picture I found a new dimension in the void. By making holes in the pictures I invented the fourth dimension.’ The Buchi, thus, open up a new dimension which had been previously unknown and now both the artist and the viewer can complete it with their imagination.
Ceramic is a central medium in Fontana’s production. Although he is mostly known for his slashed canvases, he began his artistic career with sculpture, and some have argued that the celebrated Concetti Spaziali are a direct consequence of Fontana’s experimentation with ceramic in post-war Italy, especially of the frieze and mosaic sculpture realised in 1948 for the Cinema Arlecchino in Milan.
Ceramic becomes the new spokesperson of the Concetto Spaziale, signalling a sea change in the artist’s research. Yet Fontana does not stop at the simple pleasure of fragile and soft objects, but rather he goes beyond with only a few simple gestures. The medium of the canvas is not enough for Fontana who breaks through the surface, opening a door onto infinity, onto the cosmos, creating a new dimension, a dimension without end. That creator of dynamism – the hole – becomes the spiral through which he penetrates infinity beyond light: “I make a hole in the canvas and from there I enter into infinity”.