Painted in 1964, this masterpiece is from Lucio Fontana’s celebrated Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (Spatial Concepts, The End of God). It was executed following il miracolo economico in the 1950s; Italy was booming financially and culturally. The present masterwork is a marriage of avant-garde and ultra-baroque aesthetics. The decision to violently, viscerally puncture the canvas – the Fontana autograph, as it were – had its basis in the artist’s belief that ‘making a hole was a radical gesture that broke the space of the picture and that said: after this, we are free to do what we want’.
The egg-shaped canvas, which is of human height (just slightly taller than the artist himself), required special made-to-measure stretchers. Fontana traced over the stretcher bar for a single, fine line that would circumscribe the egg, rendering the work wholly self-contained.
While the paint was still wet, Fontana used a sharp tool to gouge the piece. He then clawed at the canvas, poking fingers and even a whole hand through the punctures in order to enlarge them to a desired size. He took great pleasure in the paint that encrusted around the holes during this process and often added to it to create projecting mounds that complicate the work’s topography.
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