Concetto Spaziale, 1964
incised 'L.Fontana' lower edge
20.3 x 61 x 20.3 cm (7 7/8 x 24 x 7 7/8 in.)
Walker Art Center, MinneapolisThe Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection
20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Phillips London Auction 3 October 2019, Lot. 127
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center; Austin, University of Texas Art Museum, Lucio Fontana: the spatial concept of art, 6 January - 27 March 1966, no. 72, n.p.
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Fifth Collectors Club, 4 June - 10 July 1966, no. 34
Lucio Fontana is one of the most pioneering Italian artists of the twentieth century who challenged the boundaries of art. Fontana's art continually questioned the role of the artist and the methods of creating, through his elaborate use of a variety of abstract materials and forms. Clay modelling and ceramics have always been central to Fontana's artistic production and the best known are his Concetti Spaziale sculptures, created in the 1950s and 1960s.
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. During 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.
'I made a hole. Infinity passes through, light passes through, there's no need to paint ... everyone thought I wanted to destroy, but that's not true, I created, not destroyed' - Lucio Fontana
The present work is one of the oval sculptures produced by Fontana which were made by cutting a gash across a piece of terracotta clay. This piece is a manifestation of an earlier series of sculptures called the Natura series. It was at the end of the 1950s that Fontana's Natura series was born. This comprised of terracotta or bronze sculptures that were executed as mono-surface pebbles or corresponding bivalve forms that later became "balloons" according to Fontana's own definition. The Natura works mostly corresponded to the cosmic imagination to which the artist often referred and to the ideals of space travel prevalent during the 1960s.
In 1962 Fontana began to design jewellery, which he made in small series, developing silver and lacquer forms which were then applied to rings and bracelets, on space travel. It was also during this time that he created new glazed ceramics, often marked on the sides with a stroke that was an allusion to a transition, or with holes that opened like shapeless craters, possibly resonant to his oil paintings. Furthermore, this oval sculpture marked by a cut appears to be one of many iterations produced by Fontana. In fact, this design became visible in Fontana's rings, and many other ceramic works such as Concetto Spaziale 1967, but similar to the production of jewellery which were made in small series.
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