Immaterial: Fontana CeramicsLondon
Gamba di Tavolino, 1949
signed & dated Registered at the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan, No.4270/1
47.5 x 33 x 33 cm / 18.7 x 13 x 13 in
Fontana began his sculpting career at his father’s firm where he would make funerary busts out of plaster or marble. In 1928, he enrolled in the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera where he started training as a Neo-Classical sculptor. However, soon after leaving the Accademia, the artist moved away from the rigorous rules of sculpture. In 1935, Fontana was in the small town of Albissola where he began his career in ceramics in the workshop of the Futurist ceramist, Tullio Mazzotti. Gamba di Tavolino belongs to the series Ceramiche on which Fontana worked from 1949 until 1968. These works are purely decorative objects that Fontana realized in either ceramic or in terracotta, these included vases, small sculptures, door handles, plates or, like in this case, table bases. Following the IX Triennale, throughout the Fifties, Fontana’s ceramic production became closely connected to his spatial research and to the architectural dimension, as shown by his collaborations with Osvaldo Borsani, Baldessari, Zanuso, Minoletti and others. In 1949, with the architect Roberto Menghi, the artist started to produce ceramic table bases, covered by a crystal countertop. These were later produced by Fontana Arte and they represent an exceptional interpretation of the “domestic spatialism” in a moment when, in Italy, the role of designer was assigned to artists. Moreover, the choice of such lively and rich colours also demonstrates Fontana’s fascination for the Baroque, which informed the works he realised in those years. As a matter of fact, according to the artist the Barocco was unrivalled in its ability to represent space and in creating a dialogue between art and architecture and the real world. This is precisely what informed Fontana’s life research: to create a continuity between art and reality; or in other words, to push art beyond its boundaries. With its strong materiality, Gamba di Tavolino (Table Leg) demonstrates this intention. The bas-reliefs create a sense of movement and seem to trespass from their ceramic base as if they wanted to break away from it, thus forcing themselves in the surrounding space.