Fontana + The GothicNew York
Concetto Spaziale (Spatial Concept), 1952
ProvenanceGalleria Notizie, Turin,
Galleria Il Punto, Turin,
Gabriella Cohen, Turin,
Sotheby’s, London, 27 June 1997, lot 139,
LiteratureM. Tapié, Devenir de Fontana, Turin, Edizioni d’Arte Fratelli Pozzo, 1961, no. 177, illustrated.
Opere Scelte: Borduas, Burri, Fontana, Wols, Turin, Galleria Notizie, 1963, illustrated.
Fontana, Turin, Galleria Il Punto, 1966, illustrated.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, Brussels, La Connaissance, 1974, II, pp. 28–29, no. 52 B 26, illustrated.
Omaggio a Fontana, Centre International d’Experimentation Artistique Marie-Louise Jeanneret, Boissano, 1983, p. 12, no. 5, illustrated.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Milan, Electa, 1986, I, p. 112, no. 52 B 26, illustrated.
T.M. Messer, ed., Lucio Fontana Retrospektive, Stuttgart, Hatje, 1996, p. 220, no. 90.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Milan, Skira, 2006, I, p. 247, no. 52 B 26, illustrated.
ExhibitionsTurin, Galleria Notizie, Opere scelte: Borduas, Burri, Fontana, Wols, 6–30 April 1963.
Turin, Galleria Il Punto, Fontana, April 1966.
Boissano, Centre International d’Experimentation Artistique Marie-Louise Jeanneret, Omaggio a Fontana, 1983.
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle; Vienna, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Lucio Fontana Retrospektive, 6 June 1996–6 January 1997.
A hole is the start of a sculpture in space. My works are not pictures, but art concepts.
—Lucio Fontana, 1962
Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) stands at the forefront of postwar Italian art. Around 1949, Fontana began to puncture his canvases with holes (or buchi), which together with his later slashes (or tagli), became the defining gestures of his artistic practice. In one regard, the holes simply mark the movement of the artist’s hand, much like the brushstroke in Abstract Expressionist painting. Yet for Fontana the perforations were more significant—by literally ripping into the pictorial surface, Fontana opened up the picture plane to the space that lies beyond. Fontana understood this gesture and its result as a penetration into the limitless possibilities of a boundless universe, stating “I make a hole…and from there I enter into infinity.”
The present Concetto Spaziale of 1952 is an exceptional example of this fundamental series. Constellations of holes punctuate the dreamy blue and grey surface, upon which the paint swirls and dissolves in forms reminiscent of a cloud study or stormy landscape—thus, with his elemental gesture, Fontana seems to puncture the very atmosphere itself, in search of a portal into another climate, another realm.
Fontana’s quest to develop a fully spatial form of art, to transcend the two-dimensional limits of the traditional pictorial plane, was perhaps unsurprisingly inspired by the extraordinary technological advances of his day, from man’s first travels into space to the very first radio and television broadcasts. Fontana’s art likewise sought to look beyond the mortal plane and penetrate into the heavens—towards a new dimension, and towards a new and brilliant future. In the potent poetics of this canvas, he achieved his most cherished aims, the “lyrical flight”, the “astral evocation”. In the later decades of his career, Fontana would favour monochrome canvases dotted with more structurally aligned holes—the exuberance of the present work betokens the joy of discovery the artist must have felt as he began his initial explorations into the space beyond the flatness of his canvases.
The significance of this work within Fontana’s oeuvre is underscored by its exhibition and bibliographic history, in particular its inclusion in the seminal monograph entitled Devenir de Fontana, edited by the renowned French critic Michel Tapié in collaboration with Lucio Fontana in 1961. The work’s special lyricism places it among Lucio Fontana’s most profound works of the 1950s.
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