LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more LE JEUNE, A COLLECTING LEGACY
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)

Concetto spaziale, Attese

LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale, Attese
signed, titled and inscribed ‘l. fontana / “concetto spaziale” / “ATTESE” / 1 + 1 – STO3’ (on the reverse)
waterpaint on canvas
25 5/8 x 36 1/4in. (65 x 92cm.)
Executed in 1961
Galerie Ad Libitum, Antwerp.
Private Collection, Belgium.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 627, no. 61 T 106 (illustrated, p. 627).
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.
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Executed in 1961—the year of Lucio Fontana’s solo American debut, and of Yuri Gagarin’s seminal journey into outer space—Concetto spaziale, Attese is a pure and elegant example of the artist’s celebrated tagli. Acquired from the pioneering Galerie Ad Libitum in Antwerp, an important centre for the international avant-garde during the 1960s and 1970s, the work's four pristine strokes slice rhythmically through the immaculate white surface of the canvas, revealing the dark void. Begun three years earlier, following his early series of buchi (‘holes’), the tagli marked the culmination of his artistic philosophies. Seeking to match the spirit of the Space Age in art, Fontana’s iconoclastic slashing gesture broke new ground, opening up the unknown territory behind the canvas, and sealing time, movement and energy in its wake. The simplicity and purity of white took centre stage in this practice, later immortalised in his prize-winning installation Ambiente Spaziale at the 1966 Venice Biennale. Other white tagli with four cuts are held in collections including Buffalo AKG Art Museum and the Fondazione Lucio Fontana.

Fontana’s journey to America, where he mounted his first one-man show at Martha Jackson’s New York gallery, marked an important moment in his practice. The artist was already well established in Europe, and was widely considered a trailblazer among a younger generation that included figures such as Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani and Yves Klein. In America—a major player in the international space race, and the country that would land the first man on the moon shortly after Fontana’s death—his artwork took on new resonance. Abstract Expressionism was still a dominant force in New York’s artistic landscape: Fontana would almost certainly have encountered Barnett Newman’s celebrated ‘zip’ paintings, whose visions of unearthly transcendence arguably shared much in common with the tagli. His encounters with New York’s gleaming skyscrapers, meanwhile, prompted his series of metalli (‘metals’), in which he began to apply his cuts to vast metal sheets. Many of Fontana’s ideas also resonated with the burgeoning conversations that would eventually give birth to East Coast Minimalism: particularly his dissolution of the distinction between painting and sculpture, and his understanding of artworks as ‘spatial concepts’ (concetti spaziali).

Spatialism’s Manifesto Blanco—which Fontana had signed with a group of fellow artists in 1946—called for a new art form ‘based on the unity of time and space’ (L. Fontana et al., Manifesto Blanco, Buenos Aires, 1946). As part of this mission, the artist embraced monochrome surfaces, his single flooded planes of colour throwing the cuts into sharp relief. The present work’s incisions, indeed, loom like dark voids against their pale backdrop, conjuring rockets penetrating the clouds or comets speeding across the sky. Like his ZERO colleagues in Germany, who spoke of ‘a zone of silence and of pure possibilities for a new beginning’, Fontana believed that the blank, colourless properties of white were best suited to approximating the vast, unknown depths of the cosmos (O. Piene, ‘The Development of the Group “Zero,”’ The Times Literary Supplement, 3 September 1964, pp. 812–13). It was the colour of ‘spatial philosophy’, where the ‘expectation’ (attese) of infinity could be suspended for eternity (L. Fontana, quoted in E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Volume I, Milan 2006, p. 79). Here, the mysteries of art and the universe are translated into a vision of simple purity, every cut alive with the promise of new horizons.

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