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Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

Concetto spaziale

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale
signed and inscribed Al piccolo Luca L. Fontana (lower left);
signed and dated 'L. Fontana 56' (lower right);
signed and titled Concetto spaziale l. Fontana (on the reverse)
oil, glass stones and glitter on canvas
39 1/8 x 31 5/8in. (99.5 x 80.5cm.)
Executed in 1956
Private Collection, Milan.
Galleria Blu, Milan.
Private Collection, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1975.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, vol. II, Brussels 1974, no. 56 BA 15 (illustrated, p. 48).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo generale, vol. I, Milan 1986, no. 56 BA 15 (illustrated, p. 172).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. I, Milan 2006, no. 56 BA 15 (illustrated, p. 324).
Milan, Galleria Blu, Fontana, 1964, no. 19 (illustrated, unpaged).
Florence, Galleria Michelucci, Lucio Fontana, 1971, no. 10 (illustrated, unpaged).
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.

Lot Essay

Glistening with glass stones from within a band of putty white, Concetto spaziale dates from the height of Lucio Fontana's Barocchi or 'Baroque' period, which extended from 1954 to 1957. Juxtaposed against an expanse of thickly impastoed asphalt black paint, the emerald colour stones mingle with glitter and stark punctures that open the picture plane into infinity, giving off a luminous vitality of cosmic constellations. These are encircled with a neat row of his signature punctures (buchi) set into a Mars red border. A work steeped in personal history for the artist, Concetto spaziale is dedicated to Luca Palazzoli, the son of Galleria Blu owner Peppino Palazzoli, where it was shown in Milan in 1964.

Through the various media composing Concetto spaziale, Fontana's work evokes a sense of the cosmos as a vast and mysterious in the coalescence of light, space and matter. The buchi open up the picture plane to the infinity of space within and all around, imbuing the very materiality of the canvas to the multi-dimensionality of space. 'I do not want to make a painting', Fontana said, 'I want to open up space, create a new dimension for art, tie in with the cosmos as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture' (L. Fontana, quoted in J. van der Marck and E. Crispolti, La Connaissance, Brussels 1974, p.7).

In Concetto spaziale, Fontana conflates the two 'Spatialist' lines of investigation developed in his buchi or 'holes' and pietre or 'stones', which when combined with the host of materials present here, create an interplay of space between the sculptural projections (buchi) and penetrations (pietre). Fontana's buchi, first conceived in 1949 and pietre from 1955 were fundamental methods utilised by the artist to explore his 'Spatialist' theory. The buchi were physical signs of the possibility of opening up infinite and cosmic dimensions of space. Of this creation of space, Fontana explained, 'the discovery of the Cosmos is that of a new dimension, it is the Infinite: thus I pierce this canvas, which is the basis of all the arts and I have created a infinite dimension, an x which for me is the basis for all Contemporary Art' (L. Fontana, quoted in C. Lonzi, Autoritratto, Bari 1969, pp. 169-171). Pushing the limits of this creation of space further, Fontana included fragments of coloured glass onto his surfaces to create an even more complex inference surrounding spatial dimensions. This upsurge in materiality in his practice informed his Baroque series. In his reconciliation of the medium in almost sculptural terms, Fontana challenged the claims of painting to create the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

Fontana's relationship with the Baroque had begun early in his career, as was exemplified in his mosaic-covered sculptures and near-Futurist forms during the 1930s. Continuing to inform his post-War commission in the religious sphere, the Baroque also played a crucial part in the development of 'Spatialism'. Like Fontana's espousal of the inextricable connection between space, energy, time and matter, the Baroque conflated artistic disciplines, bringing together painting, sculpture, architecture and music to communicate a state of mind. Finding a physical precedent of sorts in his near-architectural ambienti, these three-dimensional objects conceived of light that defined space, also conjured the sense of matter and movement, qualities that lay at the heart of Fontana's ideology. Indeed the play of light as the embodiment of the visible manifestation of movement was a concept that grounded Fontana's 'Spatialist' investigations and one that also found 'precedent' in the Baroque. As Fontana explained of this connection between the Baroque and this new aesthetic ideology based on and appropriate to the Space Age in which he was living, 'A form of art is now demanded which is based on the necessity of this new vision. The baroque has guided us in this direction, in all its as yet unsurpassed grandeur, where the plastic form is inseparable from the notion of time, the images appear to abandon the plane and continue into space the movements they suggest. This conception arose from man's new idea of the existence of things; the physics of that period reveal for the first time the nature of dynamics. It is established that movement is an essential condition of matter as a beginning of the conception of the universe' (L. Fontana, 'Manifesto tecnico dello Spazialismo, 1951', L. Massimo Barbero (ed.), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat., Venice & New York, 2006, p. 229). This sense of movement, gesture, space and time, is all expressed in a work such as Concetto spaziale.

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