Lucio Fontana


Lucio Fontana is a painter, sculptor and ceramist son of a Milanese sculptor Luigi Fontana and an Argentinian mother. He lived in Italy from 1905 to 1922, then again in Rosario de Santa Fé, where he opened a sculpture studio. He returned to Italy in 1928, settling in Milan and studying sculpture at the Brera Academy 1928-30.

His first one-man exhibition was at the Galleria del Milione, Milan, 1930. He began to make abstract sculptures and ceramics and became with Licini, Melotti and others a leading figure in the Italian abstract movement. He joined the group Abstraction-Création in 1935.

In 1947, Fontana founded Spatialism, a very influential artistic movement that proposed a ground-breaking synthesis of the phenomenological realm as a new form of visual expression. The main principles, laid down in the very first Manifiesto Blanco, published in 1946 in Buenos Aires, outlined a new spirit for art, in tune with the post-war era, in which the traditional illusionism of oil painting was repudiated in favour of a unification of art and science. This theorising would lay the foundation for the next twenty years of Fontana’s practice, a period of production that significantly boasts the most important and esteemed works of the artist’s career.

Albert Einstein’s fusion of time and space into one continuum is echoed in Fontana’s synthesis of dimensions. Fontana upturns tradition having subversively replaced the paintbrush for the razor blade, dedicated his life to this technique of cutting through canvas to the void, compelling the viewer to look beyond the physical facets of painting, to what Fontana describes as a 'free space'. Via the seemingly abyssal slashes that permeate his canvases, Fontana symbolically suggests a dimension beyond both the two-dimensional canvas support and a three-dimensional, nature of the canvas itself as an object, a sculpture. For Fontana the sensation provoked by the enigmatic punctures in the canvas echoed the pleasure of man's liberation in space.

Fontana gave all of his cut-up objects the same name: Concetto Spaziale, or Space Concept. When he finally discovered the simplicity and elegance of the long slashes he gave those paintings the additional subtitle of attesa. In Italian, attesa means waiting, or hopeful expectation.

Our picks for the month

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