To fully experience the works as groundbreaking as these, one must simply visit a Lucio Fontana exhibition and see his spatial concepts in person, because nothing else will ever do them justice. Yes, it is first and foremost his “slash” paintings, whose energy can actually be felt once you’re in their presence; monochromatic canvases, cut through in order to be given a new life, eliciting hectic movement as much as an extraordinary sense of calmness. But surely it is not just about these works that we will remember Lucio Fontana by, but also his works on paper, metal and ceramics. A curated selection of his late works will soon be on view at Robilant + Voena, for yet another homage to an important figure in the history of art.
It was all about the concept of space for Lucio Fontana, one that can be found beyond the surface of a given canvas or a visionary idea in painting. His slashes and holes became a frequent sight in his work, dividing his oeuvre into Buchi (Holes) and Tagli (Slashes). The artist used to paint the canvas behind his cuts, thus giving a sense of depth and leading many to argue that this particular layer was the one holding most significance in his painting, rather than the one put at the front of the frame of his artworks. Lucio Fontana’s long, fruitful career left a vast legacy filled with pieces of many mediums and techniques and produced during his many phases of a variety of focus. Among them, on view at Robilant + Voena, there will be a Concetto Spaziale from the Inchiostri (Ink) series, an artwork created with organic ink and perforated with a conspicuous number of small dots.
The 1960s was an exciting decade for Lucio Fontana, for then he became making systematic cuts and giving the most important contributions to his own Spatialist theory. His scars and interventions became frequent, numerous and confident, further confirming the artist’s intention to delve into a different dimension of painting. Some of the finest examples of this period are the white and a yellow canvas with a single cut each, or the blue one with four cuts, demonstrating Lucio Fontana’s achieved perfection in technique and exalting his dedication to the spatial concept. Both balanced and rhythmical, these works remained his main preoccupation until the very end of his life, with the stunning white Attese being one of his last produced artworks. Also on display, there will be a rare black painting, created in 1961.
Other than providing an incredible legacy for the Spatialism movement, Lucio Fontana is also considered an important figure in the field of Abstract art, through the sublime white monochrome paintings he mastered towards 1968, the year of his death. His artworks were often designed to relate to the concept of space around them but also within them, becoming a kind of threshold between the known and the unknown, the visible and the hidden. The exhibition featuring the works of Lucio Fontana will be on view at Robilant + Voena gallery in New York City, USA, between May 6 and 27, 2016.
Editors’ Tip: Lucio Fontana
Author of many seminal books on the history of art and its most prominent artists, Barbara Hess also penned a volume on the life and work of Lucio Fontana, who blurred the line between painting and sculpture with his groundbreaking work. In yet another comprehensive TASCHEN edition, the book examines the artist’s career from the early work in collaborating with architects through his years in Buenos Aires (where, in the mid-1940s, he published the famous "White Manifesto" and "Technical Manifesto of Spatialism," among others) and his experimental light installations of the early 1950s, to his later experiments with various media. Fontana`s work was truly conceptual, in that the ideas he wanted to express were more important than the actual work itself; with titles like Concetto Spaziale (Spatial Concept) and Scultura Spaziale (Spatial Sculpture), his pieces served as visual explanations of his ideas.
Featured image: Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1960-61, detail. Oil on canvas, 52 x 45 cm