Among the various incarnations that Fontana's Spatialism took, the Teatrini are possibly the most complex in conceptual terms. Executed in 1965, Concetto spaziale, Teatrino takes the concept of space to a new level by being a three-dimensional work in its own right. Like the 'little theatre' of its name, it encloses its own space, giving it a sense of completion, of self-containment. Also, its shaped, lacquered front is reminiscent of stage sets, with its silhouetting of the shapes of a strange landscape. The landscape is dominated by a form suggestive of a shrub or tree which is surrounded by an uneven surface of rolling waves or ground. This is a playful and whimsical scene, where the shapes are rather more fantastical than representative of any traditional landscape.
The idea of the little theatre gives the sense that we are the audience, watching the work, and this is played out by the silhouette of this landscape. Every change of light, every movement of the viewer, can potentially shift the various shadows cast by the lacquered relief onto the red background, while its high degree of polish reflects light, dispersing it and creating a heightened contrast with the matte canvas. This is shadow theatre, but the landscape itself is the drama. Meanwhile, in the 'sky' above the horizon, a small cluster of perforations seems to suggest either a strange constellation or meteor shower if not some mountains in the background. Fontana is adding a diminutive dramatic tilt to this piece, and to his Spatialism in general. However, the fact that the landscape is almost entirely limited to the frame-like lacquered wood insures that the focus remains the punctured canvas itself. Indeed, the use of the landscape motif in the foreground introduces a sense of the epic, a sense of vast scale, Fontana's momentous breach of the canvas floating on high, the landscapes of terrestrial existence belittled below.
Fontana's Teatrini were to some degree an extension on a domestic scale of the Ambienti, which were architectural installations, often temporary, playing with light and surfaces. These can be considered in many ways the culmination of Fontana's art, as he dictated the lighting and atmosphere of vast spaces through the use of perforated ceilings or neon lights. Concetto spaziale, Teatrino achieves, without the use of integral lighting, the same function on a smaller scale, creating a space which, through its multi-layering and the manipulation of light sources, dictates yet disrupts the viewer's appreciation both of the space within and without the work itself.