LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED SWISS COLLECTION
LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)

Concetto spaziale

LUCIO FONTANA (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale

signed, titled and dated 'l. fontana Concetto spaziale 1960' (on the reverse)
aniline and graphite on canvas
15 1/8 x 21 3/8in. (38.3 x 54.3cm.)
Executed in 1960
Hermann Igell Collection, Stockholm.
Eva Hammarstrand Collection, Stockholm.
Carl G. Bonde Collection, Eslöv.
Anon. sale, Brerarte Milan, 18 March 1982, lot 68.
Private Collection, Milan.
Galleria Peccolo, Livorno.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, vol. I, Brussels 1974, p. 66, no. 60 B 1 (illustrated, p. 67).
E. Crispolti, Fontana. Catalogo generale di sculture, dipinti e ambienti spaziali, vol. I, Milan 1986, no. 60 B 1 (illustrated, p. 233).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. I, Milan 2006, no. 60 B 1 (illustrated, p. 396).
Milan, Galleria Medea, L’avventura spaziale di Lucio Fontana, 1974, p. 21 (illustrated in colour, p. 13).
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 1960, Concetto spaziale is a compelling work from the revolutionary series of buchi (holes) which lie at the heart of Lucio Fontana’s practice. Rendered in dark yellow aniline on raw canvas, the work presents seven horizontal trails of small, star-like holes, scattered across the surface like a twinkling constellation in space. Precise yet rhythmic, these punctures reveal a tantalising glimpse into the empty space beyond the canvas, opening our eyes to an unknown dimension beyond—an infinite void whose mysteries await us. Presenting us with a new spatial realm, Fontana’s buchi expand the canvas beyond its flat, material surface, inviting light to play in and around the edges of their small cavities. The lustrous surface pigment, a deep amber yellow which takes on the appearance of metallic gold, imbues the work with a dazzling celestial radiance. A fantastical fusion of light, space and material, the three concepts which unite Fontana’s practice, Concetto spaziale is an enigmatic example of the unique visual language that came to define the artist’s oeuvre. Speaking on the significance of his buchi, Fontana stated ‘When I hit the canvas I sensed that I had made an important gesture. It was, in fact, not an incidental hole, it was a conscious hole: by making a hole in the picture I found a new dimension in the void. By making holes in the picture I invented the fourth dimension’ (L. Fontana, quoted in P. Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana: The Artist’s Materials, Los Angeles 2012, p. 21).

Initiated by puncturing holes through pieces of thick white paper in 1949, a process he would swiftly translate to the canvas, the buchi marked a radical breakthrough in Fontana’s career, pre-figuring the tagli or ‘slashes’ he began in the late 1950s. The first works to introduce space into the canvas—thereby transforming the picture plane into a multi-dimensional topography—the buchi provided the ultimate outlet for the artist’s ‘Spatialist’ theories, a movement he had founded in Milan in 1947. Responding to an era of unprecedented scientific, technical and cosmic discovery—a period which would soon see the first man set foot on the moon—Fontana believed that a new art form needed to be conceived: one which reflected the pioneering spirit of the epoch. In Concetto spaziale and other buchi, Fontana responds to these advancements directly, transcending traditional categories of painting and sculpture and inviting real time and space into the fabric of the work. ‘Art is not on the decline, but is experiencing a slow transition phase, which is leading to a new development in artistic means’, Fontana stated in 1952. ‘A new art has to emerge, one which makes use of light and television; and only the truly creative artist can transform these technologies into art’ (L. Fontana, ‘Why I am a Spatial Artist’, in E. Crispolti & R. Siligato (eds.), Lucio Fontana, exh. cat. Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome 1998, p. 176).

Executed against a light-handed, thin wash of yellow aniline, Concetto spaziale anticipates the shimmering surfaces of the Venezie (Venice) and Metalli (Metals) series that Fontana would begin in the early 1960s. Inspired by his recent visits to Venice and New York, and more specifically, the Byzantine splendour of St. Mark’s and futuristic skyscrapers of Manhattan, Fontana was eager to translate the gilded and utopian magnificence he encountered onto his canvas. Humorously comparing the two, Fontana stated in 1961 ‘New York is more beautiful than Venice!! The skyscrapers of glass look like great cascades of water that fall from the sky!!’ (L. Fontana, quoted in Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat. Guggenheim Museum, New York 2006, p. 37). Indeed, the dazzling surface of Concetto spaziale foreshadows the golden Olli (Oils) he created for his participation in the Arte e Contemplazione exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice in 1961, as well as the Metalli, in which he abandoned oil paint altogether in favour of sleek, giant sheets of aluminium, brass and copper. Gleaming in its golden glory, evoking religious relics and futuristic technology in equal measure, Concetto spaziale is a thrilling manifestation of the conceptual components that lie at the core of Lucio Fontana’s oeuvre.

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