Immaterial: Fontana CeramicsLondon
Concetto Spaziale, 1959
Signed on the bottom right: l. fontana.The work is registered at the Archivio Lucio Fontana, Milan, with the n. 2298/1
Painted terracotta plate
Diameter: 35.5 cm / 14 in
ProvenanceAcquired from the artist circa 1970
Milano, Sotheby's, 29 e 30 novembre 2017, lot. 114
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, forms, and actions. Albeit best known for his Concetti Spaziale, created in the 1950s and 1960s, clay modelling and ceramics have always been central to his artistic production. His life as a sculptor started during the 1930s when he began making ceramics at Albisola, a small city on the Ligurian coast that had become a centre for Futurist artists interested in ceramic production. Among them was Tullio d’Albisola, the son of Giuseppe Mazzotti, a well-known ceramist and the owner of a large ceramic workshop. D’Albisola and Fontana would remain close for many years to come, combining both their artistic and technical talents. Starting with Figurativism, Fontana presented his first abstract sculptures in the early 1930s, exhibiting at Galleria del Milione in Milan, which at that time was seen as the centre of abstract art in Italy. His subject matter from this period was extremely varied ranging from battle scenes to flowers and evoked a raw intimacy. In 1939, Fontana returned to Argentina, where he stayed until the end of World War II. In 1946, he along with some South American students, launched the Manifiesto Blanco, which would lay the foundations for the birth of Spatialism. The following year Fontana returned to Italy, bringing with him the revolutionary energy of his Spatialist ideas. In the same year, he executed his first spatial sculpture, which was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1948. In the early 1950s, figurative ceramics, masks and sacred figures appeared in Fontana’s sculptures. During the second part of the decade however these more elaborate features had given way to elegantly simple cylindrical vases and ceramic and terracotta plates, marked only with holes and scratches. For Fontana ceramic production remained throughout his life as both an area of contented research and a much-needed source of income. For these reasons his practise of sculpture therefore is a prominent moment and perhaps the most significant. His exploration in sculpture is characterised by a constant syncretism between figurative expression and abstract investigation that was probably his true stylistic signature. The artwork described above is subject to changes in availability and price without prior notice. Where applicable ARR will be added.