'With the slash I invented a formula that I don't think I can perfect. I managed with this formula to give the spectator an impression of spatial calm, of cosmic rigor, of serenity in infinity.'
(L. Fontana, quoted in E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Vol. I, Milan 2006, p. 105).
Striking the sacrosanct surface of his canvas with nine precisely cut tagli, Concetto spaziale, Attese was executed directly following the groundbreaking year of 1958 for conceptual art - the year that introduced Yves Klein's experimentations with the possibilities of the monochrome, as well as Piero Manzoni's autonomous creations through his series of Achromes. Similarly, for Lucio Fontana, 1958 marked his rise to international acclaim following the success of his aniline infused works in the XXIX Venice Biennale. Buoyed by the praise he received, Fontana was determined to push forward with his Spatialist investigations. It was soon after that he executed his first tagli upon the same aniline, inky canvas as the present work. As Lawrence Alloway once suggested, 'what began as a gesture,' during this key moment 'was continued and extended as a basic part of Fontana's oeuvre' (L. Alloway quoted in Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1999, p. 30).
Representing the fusion of two important cycles in the artist's oeuvre - that of the tagli and of the aniline ink stain - Concetto spaziale, Attese evokes the cosmic silence as well as the infinite expanse of outer space. Further cut with a fine blade used to ease open the nine fissures in the canvas, Concetto spaziale, Attese brings the three-dimensionality of the picture to the fore. Introducing a mystical arena, enshrining it in the dark sliver of the vacuum that lies beyond the heart of the picture plane, Fontana's painting becomes the point of focus for the contemplation of infinity. Through its crisp, proto-Minimalist aesthetic, Concetto spaziale, Attese, in conceptual and philosophical terms, pushes the boundaries of both art and humanity. 'Einstein's discovery of the cosmos is the infinite dimension, without end,' Fontana explains. 'And here we have the foreground, middle ground and background, what do I have to do to go further? I make a hole, infinity passes through it, light passes through it....everyone thought I wanted to destroy; but it is not true, I have constructed' (L. Fontana quoted in Autoritratto, Bari 1969, p. 176).