Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT ITALIAN COLLECTION
Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

Concetto spaziale, attese

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale, attese
signed, titled and inscribed 'l. Fontana concetto spaziale 1+1-3A' (on the reverse)
waterpaint on canvas
19 ¾ x 25 3/8in. (50 x 64.5cm.)
Executed in 1962
Private Collection, Italy.
Anon. sale, Christie's Milan, 28 November 2000, lot 366.
Galleria Marescalchi, Bologna.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2003.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. II, Milan 2006, no. 62 T 63 (illustrated with incorrect diemnsions, p. 638).
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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.

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Lot Essay

‘I make these cuts and these holes, these Attese and these Concetti … I made these holes. But what are they? They are the mystery of the Unknown in art, they are the Expectation of something that must follow’ — L. Fontana

‘When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter, a man at one with the immensity of the present and of the future’ — L. Fontana

Three sweeping slashes incise the spectacular red canvas of Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale, Attese (1962). Neither destructive nor violent, these iconic cuts were an act of creation. Fontana transcended the surface of the canvas to reveal an enigmatic dark space beyond: with this apparently simple gesture, he invited the viewer to be consumed by the dark infinity beyond the picture plane. In doing so, Fontana opened up, both literally and figuratively, a whole new dimension of possibilities to advance the course of art in a new spatial era. ‘As a painter,’ he said, ‘while working on one of my perforated canvases, I do not want to make a painting: 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). Attese translates as ‘waiting:’ the slashes preserve a momentary gesture for a far-flung future, the new existence that Fontana anticipated for man in the universe. In these works, he found a meditative vehicle for existential freedom. ‘When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter, a man at one with the immensity of the present and of the future’ (L. Fontana quoted in L. M. Barbero, ‘Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York’ in L. M. Barbero (ed.), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2006, p. 23).

Following his buchi or ‘holes’, works in which he stabbed the canvas with a constellation of punctures, it was in 1958 that Fontana first vertically sliced the canvas, revealing a thin slit of darkness behind. In contrast to his buchi and barocchi of the mid-1950s – the latter of which Fontana punctured with holes as well as adding thick, painterly impasto and other materials to the surface of the canvas – the slash has a dramatic yet serene and minimal elegance. It has been suggested that Fontana first cut through the canvas in a gesture of anger and frustration. Jan van der Marck claimed that Fontana had become ‘irritated by his own indulgence in surface embellishment. In frustration he slashed into an unsuccessful canvas and suddenly realised the potential of that gesture’ (A. White, Lucio Fontana: Between Utopia and Kitsch, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, 2011, p. 208). In a desire to expand his spatial explorations, the cut served as an absolute and final gesture free from ornamentation or excess. At first the artist marked the surface of his pictures with extensive sequences of small slashes, gradually developing his process and technique, lengthening the cuts and reducing their number on the canvas. These first tagli were exhibited in a one-man show of the artist’s work at the Galleria del Naviglio, Milan in February 1959. By 1962, the year that Fontana executed the present work, he had perfectly honed his technique, creating works like Concetto spaziale, Attese in which the dramatic impact of the elongated and finely poised cuts is heightened by the pristine monochrome surface of the violated canvas.

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