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    Sale 12244

    The Italian Sale

    6 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 146

    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

    Concetto spaziale, Teatrino

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
    Concetto spaziale, Teatrino
    signed and titled ‘l. Fontana “Concetto Spaziale” (on the reverse)




    waterpaint on canvas with lacquered wood
    51 1/8 x 50 3/8in. (130 x 128cm)
    Executed in 1965


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    ‘The teatrini were a type of “realistic Spatialism”. Also a little bit in the fashion of these Pop Art things…but still in my way. They were forms that Man imagines in space’
    LUCIO FONTANA


    ‘The shaped lacquer frames and the clean grounds of the sky traversed by ordered constellations of holes indicate a new desire to create an objectified configuration of a kind of spatial “spectacle”, which Fontana presents with an almost classical imaginative composure’
    ENRICO CRISPOLTI

    Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Teatrino is one of an experimental and playfully exuberant series known as the teatrini or ‘little theatres’ that the artist created between 1964 and 1966. Executed in 1965, alongside the olii, buchi, tagli and the artist’s renowned series, La fine di Dio, Concetto spaziale, Teatrino and the teatrini are another visual incarnation of Fontana’s radical artistic movement, Spatialism, which he had been exploring since the late 1940s. Consisting of a black lacquered wooden frame, which surrounds a deep turquoise monochrome canvas that is punctured with geometric lines of holes, this work is immediately reminiscent of a theatrical stage flanked by a backdrop; a playful, imaginary object that reintroduces figurative elements into the visionary Italian’s work. At once a painting and a sculpture, this work is a hybrid object; a fusion of abstraction and figuration that not only demonstrates Fontana’s ceaseless creativity but reflects the artist’s interest and awareness of concurrent contemporary developments, in particular Pop Art.
    Keen to maintain his position at the forefront of post-war contemporary art, Fontana particularly acknowledged the importance of Pop Art among the various American art movements of this time. In 1964, the year before he executed Concetto spaziale, Teatrino, Fontana had visited the 32nd Venice Biennale, where American Pop Art had made a sensational and scandalous arrival on the European art scene. The United States pavilion exhibited works by Robert Rauschenberg, who went on to win the International Grand Prize, Jasper Johns and Claes Oldenburg, amongst others. Confronted with the slick, bold colours, commercial imagery and industrial aesthetic of Pop Art, Fontana set about creating his own answer to this movement: the teatrini. As Fontana explained, the teatrini were a type of ‘realistic Spatialism’. He continued, ‘Also a little bit in the fashion of these Pop Art things…but still in my way. They were forms that Man imagines in space’ (Fontana quoted in P. Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana: The Artist’s Materials, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 114).

    Interested by the prevalence of the bold and stylised figuration that characterised Pop Art, Fontana turned away from the abstraction that he had been predominantly practicing up until this point and introduced a more figurative element to his work. In Concetto spaziale, Teatrino, the amorphous, arabesque forms that protrude from the square frame have a wealth of figurative associations and organic allusions; a pyramidal form appears to grow out of the bottom of the frame, casting rippling shadows across the canvas behind. In contrast to the boundless, immeasurable and limitless conception of space that Fontana sought to convey in his previous spatial works, in the present work, space is enclosed, carefully delineated and confined. The stage-like configuration of Concetto spaziale, Teatrino invites the viewer to contemplate the physical space projected directly in front of them, marked by the sharp silhouettes of the forms of the surrounding frame. Space becomes the spectacle, and the viewer the audience. As Enrico Crispolti has described, ‘The shaped lacquer frames and the clean grounds of the sky traversed by ordered constellations of holes indicate a new desire to create an objectified configuration of a kind of spatial “spectacle”, which Fontana presents with an almost classical imaginative composure’ (E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Milan, 2006, p. 79). Yet, the solitary passages of holes that border the monochrome canvas provide a hint of the darker, infinite space that lies beyond the framed small-scale environment created by this work. Like stars in the sky, these punctuations create deep pools of enigmatic darkness that act as a portal to another dimension, full of mystery and magic.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Provenance

    Teresita Rasini Fontana Collection, Milan.
    Augusto Cambi, Milan.Studio Mirabello, Milan.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in the 1970s.


    Literature

    F. Elenberg, ‘Arte en Roma: dibujos y grabados de Lucio Fontana en el Instituto Italo Latino Americano’, in La Prensa, 6 August 1972.
    Lucio Fontana. Opere grafiche, exh. cat., Rome, Istituto Italo-Latino Americano, 1972, fig. P. (illustrated, unpaged).
    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, vol. I, Brussels 1974, no. 65 TE 10 (illustrated, p. 91); vol. II, Brussels 1974, no. 65 TE 10 (illustrated, p. 168).
    C. Marsan, ‘La critica: Lucio Fontana’, in Il Giornale d’Italia, 4-5 June 1974 (illustrated).
    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan 1986, no. 65 TE 10 (illustrated, p. 592)
    G. Mazzotta (ed.), Lucio Fontana, Milan 1986, (illustrated in colour, p. 26).
    G. Soavi, ‘Il maestro della lama’, in AD, May 1998 (illustrated in colour, p. 54).
    F. Diwan, Fontana’, in Grazia, 1 May 1998 (illustrated).
    G. Ierano, ‘Un taglio al passato’, Carnet, April 1999 (illustrated in colour, p. 31).
    E. Crispolti, Fontana, Milan 1999 (illustrated in colour, p. 227).
    Lucio Fontana, metafore barocche, exh. cat., Verona, Palazzo Forti, 2002-2003 (illustrated p. 38)
    E. Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, vol. II, Milan, 2006, no. 65 TE 10 (illustrated, p. 777).


    Exhibited

    Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Lucio Fontana, 1970, no. 51 (illustrated, p. 108).
    Wien, Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Italienische Kunst heute, 1971.
    New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana 1899-1968. A retrospective, 1977, no. 102 (illustrated, p. 105).
    Rimini, Sala Comunale d’Arte Contemporanea, Lucio Fontana. Mostra antologica, 1982, no. 19 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
    Varese, Villa Mirabello, Lucio Fontana. Mostra antologica, 1985 (illustrated, unpaged).
    Mantua, Casa del Mantegna, Lucio Fontana. Teatrini, 1997 (illustrated in colour, pp. 42-43).
    Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Lucio Fontana, 1998, no. 4/P/26 (illustrated, p. 295).
    Milan, Centenario di Lucio Fontana. Cinque mostre a Milano: Lucio Fontana. Idee e capolavori, 1999 (illustrated in colour, pp. 339, 349).