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    Sale 7602

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

    30 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 45

    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

    Concetto spaziale, Attese (il sole)

    Price Realised  


    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
    Concetto spaziale, Attese (il sole)
    signed, titled, inscribed and dated '1959 l. Fontana, "Concetto spaziale" "il sole"' (on the reverse)
    waterpaint and oil on burlap
    39½ x 49¼in. (100.2 x 125.2cm.)
    Executed in 1959

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    Executed in 1959, Concetto spaziale Attese (Il Sole) (Spatial Concept, Expectation, (The Sun)) is an extremely rare work belonging to a small number of paintings that Fontana made in response to his very first monochrome Tagli or 'slash' paintings in the late 1950s. Distinguished by their departure from the simple monochrome format of the recently invented Attese, and their emphasis on the calligraphic gestural mark of the slash piercing the canvas, these more elaborate works attempt to give a more lyrical and poetic expression to the mystery and mysticism of Fontana's 'Spatialist' art and his gestural interaction with the cosmos.

    Fontana's Attese ('Expectations') were so-named by the artist primarily because, when they were first exhibited by Fontana in 1958, they represented a dramatic departure from the raw punctured bucchi or holes that everyone had come to expect in his work ¬. With their elegant sweeping slashes penetrating the canvas plane and permeating it with space, physically opening it up to the infinity of the void, these, in all other respects, monochrome rectangles concentrated on the symbolism of the cut, the simple beauty of the gesture and the iconic resonance of the concept. Strong, simple, and minimalist statements assaulting and transforming the traditional medium and support of painting - the canvas rectangle - the Attese serve as icons of Spatialism and what Fontana hoped would be the beginning of a new era of immaterial art created in the full knowledge and awareness of space and the infinity of the universe.

    In contrast, Concetto spaziale Attese (Il Sole) belongs to a group of works that attempted to extend the spatial concept of the tagli into a more painterly expression invoking an aesthetic sense of the mystery of the universe and the magic and mysticism of the spatial interchange between material and immaterial. In this highly textured and very material work, which Fontana has entitled ll Sole on the reverse, five cuts of varying length have been incised into a stretched support of heavy-grained burlap that bears three painted bands of yellow and gold. These distinctive bands have themselves been painted over a fiery vermilion ground that adds an extra warmth and richness to these traditionally solar colours.

    Using a landscape format that encourages an interpretation of the painting as a rendition of the sun' s rays and of the radiant non-dimensional quality of light - a light too brilliant and intense to be seen by the naked human eye - the painting explores a spiritual understanding of the sun as a cosmic source of light, energy and matter. The intense invisible light of the sun can be seen to have been rendered by the central band of gold, and it is only this band of 'solar' colour that is intersected by the five cuts. Five cuts that, like reverse eclipses, suggest a mystical opening in the gold into the infinity and void of space. This ethereal quality is strongly grounded however by the very material nature of the picture - by the heavy texture and surface of the burlap which conveys an almost analytical and scientific sense of matter being impregnated with colour, light and energy. In this way, in the same way that the sun itself unifies light and matter ll Sole also unifies a sense of an immaterial infinite with the unique properties of mattter.

    This, essentially mystical combination of the material with the immaterial, of the empty void of space permeating material and of material interpenetrating space, lay at the heart of Fontana's Spatialist aesthetic and his vision of the future. Mixing light, energy, space and matter, in Il Sole, Fontana has produced an elegant and painterly expression of this Spatialist vision - one rooted around what, for mankind is, the prime source of life and energy in the cosmos: the sun.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Michel Couturier & Cie., Paris.
    Galerie Bleue, Stockholm.
    Private Collection, Europe.
    Anon. sale, Christie's London, 6 December 2000, lot 27.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, vol. II, Brussels 1974, no. 59 T 60 (illustrated p. 84).
    E. Crispolti, Fontana, catalogo generale, vol. I, Milan 1986, no. 59 T 60 (illustrated p. 288).
    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. I, Milan 2006, no. 59 T 60 (illustrated, p. 455).


    Vicenza, Basilica Palladiana, Spazialismo, Arte astratta, Venezia 1950-1960, October 1996-January 1997 (illustrated in colour, p. 144). Nice, Musée d'Art moderne et d'Art contemporain, Zéro International, April-June 1998 (illustrated in colour, p. 50).