Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… 顯示更多 WORKS FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, TORTONA, LOTS 107, 115
Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

Concetto spaziale, Attesa

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)
Concetto spaziale, Attesa
signed, titled and inscribed 'l. Fontana "Concetto Spaziale" ATTESA Lucia protesta perchè il quadro è bianco...' (on the reverse)
waterpaint on canvas
24 1/8 x 19 5/8in. (61.3 x 50cm.)
Executed in 1964
E. Zagni Collection, Genoa.
F. Battino Collection, Milan.
Anon. sale, Brerarte Milan, 18 March 1982, lot 40.
Galleria Pero, Milan.
Galleria La Bottega del Quadro, Bergamo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in the second half of the 1980s.
E. Crispolti, Fontana. Catalogo generale, Milan, 1986, vol. II, no. 64 T 140 (illustrated, p. 542).
E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana. Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, vol. II, Milan, 2006, no. 64 T 140 (illustrated, p. 727).
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.


Barbara Guidotti
Barbara Guidotti


‘My art is directed towards this purity, it is based on the philosophy of nothingness, a nothingness that does not imply destruction, but a nothingness of creation…’
L. Fontana

‘I am seeking to represent the void. Humanity, accepting the idea of Infinity, has already accepted the idea of Nothingness. And today Nothingness is a mathematical formula.’
L. Fontana

‘We need a change in essence and in form. We need to go beyond painting, sculpture, poetry, and music. We need a greater art in harmony with the requirements of the new spirit’
Manifesto Blanco

‘Lucia complains because the canvas is white’

Traversing almost the entire length of the canvas, the elegant, irrevocable cut of Concetto spaziale, Attesa offers a wealth of visual interpretations. Revealing a slim sliver of darkness, the incision provides a portal to another realm, an unknowable, indefinite and perhaps infinite spatial domain, a fourth dimension. Both violent and peaceful, destructive and creative, literal and conceptual, this gesture saw Lucio Fontana achieve his artistic aims, creating, in his own words, ‘a formula that I think I cannot perfect… I succeeded in giving those looking at my work a sense of spatial calm, of cosmic rigour, of serenity with regard to the Infinite. Further than this I could not go’ (Fontana, quoted in P. Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana: The Artist’s Materials, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 58).

Fontana first discovered the cool, enigmatic and paradoxical aesthetic power of the cut in 1958. He had famously punctured the canvas just under a decade before this, when he inaugurated his buchi or holes. Supposedly frustrated by his inability to transcend the ever increasing materiality that defined his work in series such as the barocchi or pietre, he slashed through a canvas in a fit of rage. Upon realising what he had done, he started deliberately slicing down the previously inviolable flat surface of the canvas. In so doing, he found that he could incorporate physical space into the picture plane – as he had been doing with his punctured buchi – but at the same time, the elegant, cadenced, almost calligraphic gesture had a serenity and an aesthetic power that transcended the physicality of the act to instead embody a timeless beauty; as Fontana described, ‘attesa is a timeless place, or nothingness… it is the pure idea embodied in the act, in the gesture of cutting, and at the same time it becomes… form, without passing through the medium of matter’ (Fontana, in P. Campiglio, Lucio Fontana: Lettere 1919-1968, Milan, 1999, p. 25).

With the slash, Fontana believed that he had invented a gesture that would transcend the boundaries of earthly time. The cut was an eternal gesture that, unlike material itself, which would inevitably decay over years, existed without end. ‘We plan to separate art from matter’, he had declared in the Primo Manifesto spaziale of 1947, ‘to separate the sense of the eternal from the concern with the immortal. And it doesn’t matter to us if a gesture, once accomplished, lives for a moment or a millennium, for we are convinced that, having accomplished it, it is eternal’ (Primo Manifesto spaziale, 1947, op. cit., p. 118). It was with works such as Concetto spaziale, Attesa that Fontana achieved an absolute clarity, the highly concentrated act of slicing the canvas serving as the climax of his artistic explorations.

The Attese are also the embodiment of the time in which they were created; powerful emblems of the spirit of discovery that defines the post-war era, as well as haunting reminders of the fear of the unknown that lay beneath the euphoria. The 1960s were a time of convulsive, turbulent change. With a rapt, near zealous fascination for science and technology, Fontana watched with ever increasing awe as the earth’s atmosphere was breached, first with satellites, before man himself conquered space. Just as mankind was conquering new worlds, so Fontana believed that art had to breach new frontiers. He was determined, as the Futurists had been before him, that art should reflect these pioneering new times, quickly recognising that traditional forms of painting and sculpture were unable to aptly convey the new concepts of space and time that had been discovered. In the face of explosive technological and scientific innovation and change, what use, he asked, did illusionistic painted representations on canvas have? ‘Think about when there are big space stations’, he asked. ‘Do you think that the men of the future will build columns with capitals there? Or that they will call painters to paint?... No, art, as it is thought of today, will end’ (Fontana, quoted in A. White, ‘Art Beyond the Globe: Lucio Fontana’s Spatial Identity’ emaj, no. 3, 2008, p. 2).

Contemporary art, Fontana believed, needed to come out of its frame and off its pedestal to instead incorporate and therefore exist in real time, space and movement. It was upon his return to Milan in 1947 following a seven-year sojourn in Buenos Aires that these ideas took shape. While in Argentina, he had already published a manifesto, the Manifesto Blanco, in which, borrowing the rhetoric of his Futurist forebears, Fontana denounced traditional forms of painting and sculpture, instead calling for an art that embodied the spirit of the intrepid, rapidly changing times. ‘We need a change in essence and in form’, the manifesto declared. ‘We need to go beyond painting, sculpture, poetry, and music. We need a greater art in harmony with the requirements of the new spirit’ (Manifesto Blanco, 1946 in E. Crispolti & R. Siligato, eds., Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., Rome, 1998, p. 115). A year later, Fontana presented a second tract entitled Primo Manifesto spaziale, which presented the central tenets of Fontana’s newly founded Spatialism, the movement to which he would remain devoted for the rest of his career. ‘We refuse to believe that science and art are two distinct facts, that the gestures accomplished by one of the two activities cannot also belong to the other’, Fontana declared in this text, surmising the central aspects of the movement. ‘Artists anticipate scientific gestures, scientific gestures always provoke artistic gestures’ (Primo Manifesto spaziale, 1947, ibid., p. 118).

Perhaps more than any post-war artist, Fontana’s work captures the anticipatory spirit of the epoch. A time of revelatory discoveries – both scientific and technological – man’s place within the universe had been completely redefined and human potential radically reconsidered. Contemporary life was filled with new questions and possibilities: if man could leave the earth’s atmosphere and exist in space, would it one day be possible for him to live on the moon? Space travel changed the course of the 20th Century and, by trying to capture and distil this same sense of pioneering exploration, Fontana too altered the course of post-war art. ‘In future there will no longer be art the way we understand it’, he declared. ‘No, art, the way we think about it today will cease… there’ll be something else. I make these cuts and these holes, these Attese and these Concetti… Compared to the Spatial era I am merely a man making signs in the sand. I made these holes. But what are they? They are the mystery of the Unknown in art, they are the Expectation of something that must follow’ (Fontana, quoted in L. M. Barbero, ‘Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York’ in L. M. Barbero, ed., Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, exh. cat., New York, 2006, p. 47). Working in a time in which a new realm of human consciousness had been revealed, Fontana’s Attese served to reflect this, offering, through a new art form, a spiritual liberation.

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