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Concetto Spaziale

Concetto Spaziale
signed and titled 'Fontana/Concetto Spaziale' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
89 x 116 cm
Painted in 1961
Galerie Rive Droite, Anjou
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, London, 2 July 1975, lot 118
Acquired from the above sale
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Generale, Milano 1986, vol., p. 388, n. 61 o 122
Anjou, Galerie Rive Droite
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Lot Essay

Born in Argentina in 1899, Lucio Fontana's life began at the end of the Romantic era and ended in 1968 during the birth of the Space Age. The artist's engagement with cutting edge science and technology induced him to explore a range of media through his varied career: first as a sculptor, working with metal, stone, ceramic and neon; through his close association with architects; and most notably as a painter.

The three-dimensionality of his practice as a sculptor and his understanding of architecture had a profound impact upon Fontana's work as a painter. In 1949, the artist pioneered his technique of puncturing the surface of the canvas: not principally a gesture driven by aesthetics, but rather one that enabled him to leave behind the confines of the two-dimensional surface. The artist's program was elucidated in the Manifesto Blanco of 1946, written with his collaborators from the Academia de Altamira (which he had founded in Buenos Aires), in which he declared his ambition to produce an art that was capable of expressing the fourth dimension: merging architecture, sculpture and painting to create a new idiom. 'We live in the mechanical age. Painted canvas and upright plaster no longer have a reason to exist' (B. Arias et.al, The Manifesto Blanco, Buenos Aires, 1946).

In April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space. The magnitude of this achievement strengthened Fontana's entrancement with the possibility of going beyond. "Einstein's discovery of the cosmos is the infinite dimension, without end. And so here we have: foreground, middleground and background... to go farther what do I have to do?... I make holes, infinity passes through them, light passes through them, there is no need to paint (in E. Crispolti, "Spatialism and Informel", Lucio Fontana, Milan, 1998, p.146).

In Concetto Spaziale, Fontana maps out two arcs, using string under the scarlet paint to subtly delineate shape, while another piece of string links the two semi-circles. The arcs both enclose a jagged hole in each side of the canvas, a rough puncture that gouges the monochromatic surface. Other works in the series make more overt reference through their shapes to the perspective of the earth from the moon, but here, Fontana makes his declaration more about the capacity of his art to elicit new dimensions of perception in the mind of the viewer. "I do not want to make a painting, I want to open space, create a new dimension for art, tie in at the cosmos, as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture. With my innovation of the hole pierced through the canvas in repetitive formations, I have not attempted to decorate a surface, but, on the contrary, I have tried to break its dimensional limitations. Beyond the perforations, a newly gained freedom of interpretation awaits us, but also, and just as inevitably, the end of art" (Lucio Fontana in Lucio Fontana, Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis 1966).



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