THE FONTANA PHENOMENON: from Seaside to StudioLondon
Gamba di Tavolino (Table Leg), 1949
ProvenancePrivate collection, Europe
One of the foremost post-war Italian artists, Lucio Fontana possessed inexhaustible creativity and a boundless imagination. His eclectic and multi-faceted artistic practice generated a varied body of work, from sculpture and ceramics to paintings and large installation works, and he frequently collaborated with architects and designers as he explored Spatialism, the movement he founded in 1947. The present work, executed in 1949, is a glazed terracotta table leg, which Fontana modelled in his distinctive, gestural style. Instinctively handling the wet clay with bare hands, Fontana imbued the surface of this columnar structure with a dynamism and vigour equalling that of the polychrome ceramic sculptures he was also creating at the time. With these works, Fontana pioneered a new form of sculpture, one that brought space, movement, and material together in a symbiotic, dynamic unity.
Fontana maintained that there were no boundaries between artistic mediums and disciplines. He believed that conventional genres were outmoded, stating in the Manifesto Blanco (1946), “We live in the age of physics and technology. Painted cardboard and upright plaster no longer have any justification to exist.” Painting and sculpture merged in the artist’s eyes, as did the practices of architects and artists, generating a new concept of Spatial art that matched the technological developments of the time. Believing in the unity of the arts, Fontana removed the boundaries normally imposed by art making, revelling in the freedom of creation while creating an astonishing variety of artworks and objects. In the present Gamba di tavolino, the functional requirements of a utilitarian object are met with a passionate exploration of movement and form. Traditional domestic motifs of flowers and foliage are recognisable, yet transformed by Fontana’s touch and vision into a thoroughly modern expression of abstracted beauty.
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