Gold is as beautiful as the Sun!
l'Oro è bello come il Sole!, (The artist's inscription on the reverse of Concetto Spaziale, no. 64 O 11.)
Concetto Spaziale, Attese is a splendid and rare example of Fontana's widely celebrated Tagli series, the artist's ultimate aspiration to a purified and immaterial artistic language. Monumental in scale and resplendent in the virtuoso use of gold paint, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, dating from 1959, is one of the most convincing early manifestations of Fontana's experimentations with cuts, which would then become the artist's most illustrious series. The painting was exhibited at the Fifth São Paulo Biennal in 1959, and was included in the breakthrough exhibition dedicated to Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri at the Museum in Modern Art in New York in 1966, which travelled for two years in the United States showing the achievements of the two most influential Post-war Italian artists. Recorded in Michel Tapié's seminal book Devenir de Fontana, the present work testifies a crucial moment in the artist's inexhaustible creativity.
Fontana's aim, when he created his cuts, was to find a lyrical solution to the need for going beyond the physical limits of the surface of the canvas. In a letter from this crucial moment the artist recalls the invention of the Tagli in 1958 by writing: ''Dear Mario, I am either a saint or a madman!!! But I might be in an asylum now, whereas these Attese give me peace. In many working years this is the happiest moment of my life.'' (the artist cited in a letter from Lucio Fontana to Mario Bardini, 1959, Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan). In these early paintings, Fontana investigated a multitude of compositions, shapes and colours before attaining his signature monochrome cuts and the extraordinary beauty of these incredibly rare works document a deciding moment in Fontana's restless research. As Enrico Crispolti observed, "by experimenting with the use of 'sign' forms, generally gold, Fontana created a dialectic relationship with the slashes." (cited in: Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato, Vol. I, Milan 2006 p. 77.)
On a green and golden painted canvas, tense and luminous, five slashes, as dark shadows, create a rhythmic alternation between volume and emptiness, between presence and absence. The extensive use of gold is worth considering: traditionally placed within religious and spiritual contexts, gold was similarly used by contemporaries such as Yves Klein in his Monogold paintings and Robert Rauschenberg in his Gold Paintings, as well as Alberto Burri's touches of gold to his Sacchi. Yves Klein's first Monogold dates from 1959, the same year as the present work. Most notably Lucio Fontana bought in the early 1960s from Yves Klein MG 42, an example of Klein's Monogolds for his personal collection. The use of gold in Concetto Spaziale, Attese is a stunning prelude to Fontana's gold oil paintings and his infamous Venezia cycle, the artist's dreamy interpretation of the Venetian baroque.
From the same rare series as Concetto Spaziale, Attese , which now resides in the collection of Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the present work represents an extraordinary opportunity for collecting one of the artist's most significant works marking Fontana's tireless innovation. Fontana's genius lies in his ability to exploit all the potentialities of the medium, to obtain a work of essential aestheticism. As observed by Fred Licht, ''Fontana's work emerges as a manifestation of sublime serenity. [..] Fontana, far from destroying the canvas, transformed it, gave it a higher and hitherto, unexpected expressive possibility. [..] The Tagli introduce us to a distance that is glimpsed just sufficiently to allow us into a realm that exists not as an extension of our space but as a mightier, possibly overwhelming immensity.'' (cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Venice, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Homage to Lucio Fontana, 1987, p. 38)
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