"We live in the mechanical age. Painted canvas and upright plaster no longer have a reason to exist" (from Manifesto Blanco, written by B. Arias, H. Cazeneuve, M. Fridman, Buenos Aires 1946).
So proclaimed the Manifesto Blanco, the precursor of the Spatial Manifestoes which, while not signed by Fontana, was written by his disciples and contained his thoughts and beliefs. And nowhere is the assertion that painted canvas has no reason to exist more vividly displayed than in Concetto spaziale, Attese, where this hallowed medium, the support for some of the most cherished masterpieces of Western art from the last half millennium, has been sliced-- albeit calligraphically-- repeatedly with a sharp knife. Fontana has attacked the tradition of the oil-on-canvas and has highlighted the redundancy of painting in the age of science, technology and space travel.
This concept, verging on the boundaries of vandalism, was merely a by-product, though, of an artistic technique that Fontana saw as ultimately creative in a way that no art had previously been. It was indeed Space, both with a large 'S' and a small one, that was Fontana's primary concern, and this he has carved out with each slice of the canvas. In a sense, it is not so much the solid part of Concetto spaziale, Attese that is of importance, but the space that Fontana has sculpted within it. With his simple, fluid, graceful slashes and the movements that created them, he has demarcated a series of spaces within the vast infinity of Space as areas of his Art. His ephemeral gesture of a moment has therefore managed to create something timeless and indestructible. In this way, Concetto spaziale, Attese reflects some of the ideas at the core of the Second Spatial Manifesto:
The work of art is destroyed by time.
"When, in the final blaze of the universe, time and space no longer exist, there will be no memory of the monuments erected by man, although not a single hair on his head will have been lost.
'But we do not intend to abolish the art of the past or to stop life: we want painting to escape from its frame and sculpture from its bell-jar. An expression of aerial art of a minute is as if it lasts a thousand years, an eternity" (Second Spatial Manifesto, signed by G. Dova, L. Fontana, B. Joppolo, G. Kaisserlian, M. Milani, A Tullier, Milan, March 1948, reproduced in E. Crispolti & R. Siligato (eds.), Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., Milan 1998, p. 118).