Lucio Fontana’s tagli or "cuts" are some of the most revolutionary paintings in the 20th-century art historical canon. Following on from his buchi series—works in which he transgressed the sanctity of the painting’s surface by piercing holes in it—the tagli are largely monochromatic canvases into which Fontana cut into the painted support with a sharp knife. Within this act, the artist transgresses the previously sacrosanct concept of the canvas, introducing a paradigm shift that would forever change the ways in which artists considered the picture plane.
Concetto spaziale, Attese features four curved vertical cuts; the two outermost cuts have been created larger, producing concave openings revealing more of the dark interior, while the two inner cuts are more concise and do not expose the interior through the surface of the painting. In addition, this painting includes a rare example of the artist’s "sign" in the form of a mark in the lower right corner; this form of "signature" appears in only about twenty-five tagli executed between 1959 and 1960.
Leading up to the event of the cut, each canvas was primed and painted methodically in ways to minimize evidence of artist’s hand, so as to ensure that the surface was completely flat and taught—entirely visual, purely chromatic. Fontana’s use of water-suspended pigment specifically aided in producing this quality that the artist preferred to work from. Across his work, “Fontana called for an integration of the dimensions of space and time. He wedded those two elements both literally and symbolically. The indeterminate, potentially limitless expanse of color is incised, in a precise and split-second way, by the artist’s tool” (J. van der Mark, Lucio Fontana: From Tradition to Utopia, Brussels, 1974, p. 19).