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

Concetto spaziale, Attese

Details
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale, Attese
signed, titled and inscribed 'ATTESE l. Fontana "Concetto Spaziale" Questo quadro è stato esposto in Svizzera' (on the reverse)
waterpaint on canvas
28 3⁄4 x 36 1⁄4in. (73 x 92cm.)
Executed in 1964-1965
Provenance
Studio Bellini, Milan.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1973.
Literature
E. Crispolti, Fontana: catalogo generale, vol. II, Milan 1986, no. 64-65 T 46 (illustrated, p. 554).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol II, Milan 2006, no. 64-65 T 46 (illustrated with incorrect orientation, p. 738).
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. Where Christie’s has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie’s therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. On occasion, Christie’s has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. Where Christie’s holds such financial interest we identify such lots with the symbol º next to the lot number.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot which was not marked with a diamond symbol in the printed catalogue is now subject to a minimum price guarantee and has been financed by a third party. Please see the conditions of sale for further information.

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Lot Essay

Spanning almost a metre in width, Concetto spaziale, Attese (1964-1965) is an impressive white example of Lucio Fontana’s concetti spaziali, or ‘spatial concepts.’ Its radiant surface is punctured by an exceptionally high number of ten cuts or tagli, each opening onto a void of darkness beyond. It is one of just six white canvases known with this number of cuts; another is in the collection of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. The tagli, which Fontana had begun making in 1958, were a philosophical gesture, and creative rather than destructive. In cutting the canvas open, Fontana transcended centuries of picture-plane-bound art history to reveal the infinity of space, in which he saw the limitless future of mankind in the ‘spatial era.’ Slit starkly through a serene white expanse, the present work’s incisions see Fontana’s conceptual revolution at its peak of drama and elegance. The slashes are brought to life by their rhythmic motion and playful, irregular slants; tapering finely at each end, they might echo the arcs of launching rockets, or the trails of comets shooting through space.

Although he experimented with a wide range of hues in his works, white was Fontana’s ultimate colour of choice for the monochrome tagli. In this, he had much in common with the ZERO artists, who had founded their movement in Düsseldorf in 1957, ten years after Fontana’s initial declaration of ‘Spatialism’. For the ZERO group, white embodied the ecstatic primary condition of light that Otto Piene called ‘a zone of silence and of pure possibilities for a new beginning’ (O. Piene, ‘The Development of the Group “Zero,”’ The Times Literary Supplement, 3 September 1964, pp. 812–13); their Italian comrade Piero Manzoni asserted that ‘Infinity is rigorously monochrome, or, better still, it has no colour’ (P. Manzoni, ‘Free Dimension’, Azimuth, No. 2, Milan, 1960). For Fontana, white was the ‘purest colour, the least complicated, the easiest to understand’, best able to convey the ‘pure simplicity’ and ‘pure philosophy’ which he sought to attain in his late works (L. Fontana, quoted in E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Tomo I, Milan 2006, p. 79). Towards the end of his life, Fontana would be awarded the Grand Prize at the 1966 Venice Biennale for an installation of twenty white canvases potent in their simplicity, each presenting a single vertical incision down the centre.

Creating a pristine contrast with the abyssal blackness of his cuts, white represented for Fontana, as for the ZERO artists, a tabula rasa that could open up previously undreamt-of freedoms, ideas and potentials in the postwar era. In many ways, the tagli also foreshadowed the evolution of Minimalist thought and practice during the 1960s. Emptied of expression and narrative, they were objects defined solely by the fact of their own existence, and radically reimagined art’s relationship to the external world. The present work’s slashed surface enters the fourth dimension in spiritual union with the astronauts who were making bold new steps into space at the time, and offers an optimistic vision of man’s potential in a newly, infinitely unfolding universe. ‘When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit,’ Fontana said. ‘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 Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat. Guggenheim Museum, New York 2006, p. 23).

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