• The Italian Sale  auction at Christies

    Sale 7757

    The Italian Sale

    16 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

    Concetto spaziale

    Price Realised  


    Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
    Concetto spaziale
    incised with the artist's signature 'l. Fontana' (lower right)
    painted terracotta
    9 1/8 x 11in. (23 x 28cm.)
    Executed in 1951-52

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    Executed in 1951-52, Concetto spaziale dates from the very earliest period of Lucio Fontana's creation of Spatial works of art. He had already brought Spatialism into existence as a concept during the previous few years, but it was only in 1949 that he had had his celebrated Eureka moment, cutting through the surface of the picture-plane and creating the first Buchi. That had been the same year as his first innovative spatial environment, Ambiente spaziale a luce nera, and it was only in 1952 that he began to exhibit the cycle of Buchi which he had been creating over previous years.

    Concetto spaziale continues the exploration of this new means of introducing Spatial concepts into art, here in the form of a sculpture made of terracotta, one of the materials with which Fontana had long been adept at manipulating. Indeed, he had often created figurative works even in the pre-War period that showed his virtuosity as a sculptor while also hinting at his future interest in the relationship between space and matter. His skill in this area is reflected both by the fact that he exhibited in 1951 in the Mostra delle Ceramiche Italo-Francese in Milan, and also met Pablo Picasso, one of the most famous artists to explore the potential of ceramics and terracotta, in Vallauris during the same period.

    In Concetto spaziale, Fontana's interest in space, matter and gesture have evolved into a work in which the surface itself bears testimony to the range of movements and interactions that have resulted in the artist's traces being captured within the support. The punctures, which appear to have been made to each side of the sculpture, emphasise the three-dimensionality of the surface, an effect that is further articulated by the flashes of colour in the detailing. This constellation of marks allows space to permeate the tangible object like shards of the infinite. Here, Fontana has truly combined his origins as a sculptor with his desire to bring into existence an artform appropriate to the age of Space travel, the age of science and infinity. He is liberating art from the material, from the figurative, from the static, introducing a sense of movement and a hint of that crucial, poetic tension between that ephemeral movement and the ineradicable, eternal space that he has brought into being within the terracotta.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Galleria d'arte il Triangolo, Rome.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1961.

    Pre-Lot Text



    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. I, Milan 2006, no. 51-52 SC 4 (illustrated, p. 304).


    Rome, Galleria d'arte il Triangolo, Ceramiche di Lucio Fontana, December 1961.
    Toyama, The Museum of Modern Art, Lucio Fontana, April-June 1986, no. 101 (illustrated, pp. 101 and 119). This exhibition later travelled to Karuizawa, The Museum of Modern Art Seibu Takanawa, July-September 1986; Tokyo, The Seibu Museum of Art, September-October 1986; Fukushima, Iwaki City Art Museum, October-November 1986 and Amagasaki, Seibu Tsukashin, November-December 1986.