Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
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Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

Concetto Spaziale, La fine di Dio

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Concetto Spaziale, La fine di Dio
signed 'l. fontana' (upper left); signed and titled 'l. fontana "Concetto Spaziale" "La Fine di dio"' (on the reverse).
oil on canvas
701/8 x 483/8in. (178 x 123cm.)
Executed in 1963
Acquired directly from the artist by the father of the present owner.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana catalogue raisonné, Brussels, 1974, vol. II, p. 136, no. 63 FD 4 (illustrated).
E. Crispolti, Fontana Catalogo generale, Milan, 1986, vol. II, p. 462, no. 63 FD 4, (illustrated).
Turin, Galeria Notizie, Pollock, Burri, Fontana, June-July 1964 (illustrated).
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Lot Essay

La Fine di Dio ("The End of God") is the title that Fontana gave to a series of 38 oval shaped paintings executed in an eighteen month period between 1963 and 1964. Originally exhibited at the Galleria dell'Arte in Milan in 1963 under the title "the Eggs" and at a 1964 exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Iris Clert under the title "Les Oeufs céleste" ("The celestial eggs") the Fine di Dio paintings represent the culmination of Fontana's art and the coming together of all his artistic concerns in one perfect form and within one perfect resolution.

For Fontana, the title he gave these works, La Fine di Dio , meant "infinity , the inconceivable thing, the end of figuration, the principle of the void." (interview with Carlo Cisventi 1963, cited in Lucio Fontana exhib. cat. Palazzo delle Espsizioni, Rome, 1998, p. 244.) As with his bucchi and attese the enlarged holes in the canvas were intended as gestural metaphors of an opening onto an infinite and dimensionless space that is beyond the intellectual capacity of man to understand and therefore beyond his notion of God.

"Now in space there is no longer any measurement. " Fontana explained, "Now you see the Milky Way, now there are billions and billions ....The sense of measurement and of time no longer exists. Before it could be like that...but today it is certain, because man speaks of billions of years, of thousands and thousands of billions of years to reach, and so, here is the void, man is reduced to nothing...When man realises ....that he is nothing, nothing, that he is pure spirit he will no longer have materialistic ambitions... man will become like God, he will become spirit. This is the end of the world and the liberation of matter, of man will become a simple being like a flower, a plant will only live through his intelligence, through the beauty of nature he will purify himself with blood, because he constantly lives with blood...And my art too is all based on this purity on this philosophy of nothing, which is not a destructive nothing, but a creative nothing.... And the slash, and the holes, the first holes, were not the destruction of the was a dimension beyond the painting, the freedom to conceive art through any means, through any form." (cited in Lucio Fontana exhib. cat. Palazzo delle Espsizioni, Rome, 1998, p. 246.)

Fontana's use of an oval form - a universal symbol of creation and regeneneration - is linked to the roundness of the large terracotta spheres of his "Nature" cycle of 1959-60 which represented vast seeds that appeared to be splitting open and ready to propagate. In La Fine di Dio the elegant calm of the oval form contrasts directly with the violence of the deep holes that have been gouged from the canvas in a way that relates closely to Fontana's most recent Oils whose deep chasms of blackness Fontana descibed as "meditations on the terror of space and the awesome grandeur of catastrophe". For him , these punctured voids with their wound-like encrusted emanations of oil paint represented "man's suffering in space, the suffering of the astronaut, who is squashed and compressed with instruments penetrating his skin...The man who flies in space is a new kind of man, with new sensations, above all painful." ( Fontana cited in Lucio Fontana exhib. cat. Palazzo delle Espsizioni, Rome, 1998, p. 244.)

In creating this luscious green version with its snake-like progression of deeply gelatinous punctured holes, Fontana asserts in this work a strong sense of Nature and its interaction with the impenetrable dark void of infinite space. In a way that emulates the solid materiality of his terracotta spheres the lurid oily green surface of the work has been used to create a stunningly rich and animated surface that seems to tremble with life.

These two elements, the sensual almost living surface of the work and the still inanimate infinite expanse of black behind the picture combine in this work to form a dramatic sense of counterpoint. In this way, Fontana's Fine di Dio paintings can be seen as objects that are complete unto themeslves for they are supremely elegant spatial expressions of the infinite within a single unified and recognisable form. Like independent universes, the Fine di Dio enclose the tortured reality of man's physical suffering and his fear of the dimensionless void of space within one calming universal image of fertility and regeneration.


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