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

Concetto spaziale

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale
signed and dated 'l. Fontana 54' (lower right); signed, titled and dated 'l. fontana "Concetto Spaziale" 54' (on the reverse)
oil and stones on canvas
79.5 x 49.5 cm.
Executed in 1954
Enrico Baj, Milan.
Acquired from the above by Piet and Ida Sanders.
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, vol. II, Brussels 1974, no. 54 P 13 (illustrated, p. 34).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo generale, vol. I, Milan 1986, no. 54 P 13 (illustrated, p. 126).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazione, vol. I, Milan 2006, no. 54 P 13 (illustrated, p. 267).
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum, Schiedammers tonen hun kunstbezit, 18 December 1959-16 February 1960, no. 164.
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Nederlanders verzamelen hedendaagse kunst, 24 February-1 April 1962, no. 50 (illustrated).
Schiedam, Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, Collectie Piet en Ida Sanders. Leven met kunst, 30 June-21 October 2012.
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.

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Lot Essay

'With my innovation of the hole pierced through the canvas in repetitive formations, I have not attempted to decorate a surface, but on the contrary; I have tried to break its dimensional limitations. Beyond the perforations, a newly gained freedom of interpretations awaits us, but also, and just as inevitably, the end of art'
The artist cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Lucio Fontana, 1966, unpaged

Executed in 1954, Lucio Fontana's brick red Concetto spaziale is an elegantly articulated work from his pietri 'stones' series. Extending from his first experiments with buchi or 'holes' from 1949, Fontana's pietri utilize such base materials as rocks, beads and shards of glass in order to further open up the surface of the canvas to a multi-dimensional play of light, colour and texture. 'When I began using the stones,' Fontana once explained, 'I wanted to see if I could move forward... I thought that with the stones, the light would flow better - that it would create more the effect of movement' (L. Fontana, 1967, quoted in Lucio Fontana, exh. cat. London 1999, p. 17). The present work marks one of the artist's first instances of combining pietri with his signature penetrations of the picture surface. Punctured in a constellation across the central sweep of the canvas, the alternating holes and rocks in Concetto spaziale invoke a landscape despite its supposed abstraction. Indeed, the variably saturated earthy red surface creates a complex tension between the dimensions evoked by the holes and rocks which recalls the surface of some distant planet seen from space. This unique topography is only further enhanced in Concetto spaziale by the dramatic shadows presented through its miniature craters and rocky masses, simultaneously recalling Fontana's earlier career as a sculptor and highlighting his belief that the canvas is more than just two-dimensional illusionary space. The richly worked surface of Concetto spaziale also emphasizes the degree to which Fontana introduced time and the fourth dimension in to his work: the scattering of holes interspersed with rocks in formations of varying densities gives the viewer a visceral sense of the motion of the artist's hand in the creation of the picture.

Fostering relationships with a number of artists in Fontana's circle, the Sanders acquired the present work from the artist's close colleague and sometime art collaborator, Enrico Baj, the founder of the Nuclear Art movement. Embodying the advances in technology and thinking that defined the Space Age in the 20th Century, Fontana's pioneering transformation of the canvas marked a paradigm shift in Post-War art that can still be felt in Conceptual Art today. By disrupting the sacred surface of the canvas, Fontana's Concetto spaziale series introduced a new type of painting that reflected these as-yet uncharted horizons that were being uncovered through technology, while also incorporating the very essence of Space itself.

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