Fontana + The GothicNew York
Concetto Spaziale, Attese (Spacial Concept, Waiting), 1960
ProvenanceCollezione G. L’Erede, Livorno (1137/6);
(Sotheby’s London, 3-4 April 1974, lot 147).
(Finarte, Rome, 9 December 1976, lot 61)
Angelo Franco Poggi collection, Milan,
Galerie Knoel, Basel.
LiteratureE. Crispolti, Fontana, Catalogo Generale di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambienti Spaziali, Milan, 1986, I, p. 337, no. 60 T 146 ill. b/n.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Milan, 2006, I, p. 505, no. 60 T 146 ill. b/n.
“Gold is as beautiful as the sun”—Lucio Fontana (quoted in L. Massimo Barbero, ed., Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat., Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2006–7, p. 24).
With a single and precise slash penetrating a radiantly golden canvas, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1960, is an early work from Lucio Fontana’s series of tagli (cuts), the group of works that perhaps best embody the essence of his Spatialist theories. Executed in the final decade of his life, between 1958 and 1968. Fontana’s tagli were philosophical gestures, creative rather than destructive: in slicing the canvas open, Fontana transcended centuries of art history bound by the two-dimensionality of the picture plane to reveal the infinity of space beyond, an enigmatic fourth dimension in which he saw the limitless future of humankind in the “spatial era.” Having first pierced his canvased with buchi (holes) in 1954, Fontana spent some years experimenting with surface ornamentation, painting with thick impastos and often embedding glass fragments and glitter into his canvases, before arriving at the serene austerity of the monochrome tagli, truly the apex and purest crystallisation of his audacious, ever evolving formal vocabulary.
For Fontana, gold was the colour of the sun, and just as its powerful rays penetrated the very universe, so too did Fontana’s revolutionary slashing gesture seek access the infinite dimensions beyond the canvas. Moreover, created in 1960, the work presages the artist’s Venice and New York series of the following year. Fontana was fascinated with gold and gilding, used throughout art history for the most sacred objects. Luxurious and luminous, the enigmatic and abstract nature of gold’s metallic reflections had long been associated with divinity and immortality. In Italy, gilding proliferated in the Byzantine and Baroque period, when it became omnipresent on countless architectural and decorative motifs, especially in churches. Fontana used gold paint across his later career. In his Venezia series of 1961, Fontana manipulated metallic paint into fluid impastos to dreamily recreate the dynamic undulations and arabesques of the Venetian Baroque; later, inspired by the skyscrapers of Manhattan after his first journey to New York in 1961, the artist jettisoned canvas for actual copper and aluminum sheets in a series entitled Metalli. Exploiting the reflective qualities his medium, in his Metalli, direct light upon the object rebounds toward the exterior, inundating the surrounding space, and the mirror surface distorts the reflection of the viewer in front of these impressive works. Thus, works like the present one mark a significant step on the artist’s journey towards perfecting a sense of an enveloping, phenomenological experience in the relationship between the viewer and the artwork.
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