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PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
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Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,415,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
49

PROPERTY OF AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTOR

Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,415,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York

Lucio Fontana
1899 - 1968
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
signed, titled, numbered 1+1-00ZHT1 and inscribed Se domani vado a Roma mi piacerebbe vedere argan on the reverse
oil on canvas
28 3/4 by 23 3/4 in. 73 by 60.3 cm.
Executed in 1964.
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Provenance

Giorgio Gallizio, Alba
Galleria Sianesi, Milan
Private Collection, Milan
Private Collection, Japan
Acquired by the present owner from the above circa 1987-1988

Exhibited

Milan, Galleria Il Mappamondo, Lucio Fontana, 1980, no. 85, illustrated
Milan, Centro Annunciata, 40 anni di mostre: in due manifestazioni, seconda parte, November 1981 - January 1982, no. 4 
Tokyo-Kagoshima-Nishinomiya; Tokyo, The Yomiuru Shimbun; Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Museum of Art; Kagoshima, Museo Municipale d'Arte; and Nishinomiya, Otani Museum of Art, Lucio Fontana: La Penetrazione dello Spazio, April - October 1992, p. 30, no. 21, illustrated and p. 85, no. 46, illustrated in color 

Literature

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environments spatiaux, Vol. II, Brussels, 1974, pp. 150-151, no. 64 T 4, illustrated 
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan, 1986, p. 515, no. 64 T 4, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan, 2006, p. 706, no. 64 T 4, illustrated
BT, Vol. XLIV, No. 656, Tokyo, July 1992, p. 228, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

Slicing through the golden expanse of supple canvas with deft exactitude, the exquisite rupture of Lucio Fontana’s breathtaking Concetto Spaziale, Attesa proclaims a triumphant challenge to canonical art history’s dependency upon the picture plane, ushering in a new age of irreverent, impassioned, and utterly groundbreaking artistic philosophy. Evoking the resplendent aura of gilded Baroque sanctuaries and cherished Byzantine idols, the luminous golden surface of the present work is an exceptionally rare example of the artist’s iconic tagli series; executed in 1964, Concetto Spaziale, Attesa is one of only two golden tagli paintings Fontana executed in that year. Equal parts precious object and artistic treatise, the metallic pigment of Concetto Spaziale, Attesa offers a particularly profound summation of the conceptual catalyst that drove Fontana’s career-long investigation of space, fusing the devotional opulence of antiquity with the radical inquiries of mankind’s technological revolution in an ever-intensifying dialogue with the infinite tangibility of space.

From his first, radical incision of the canvas, Fontana’s iconic rupture of the picture plane in the tagli paintings constituted a seminal redefinition of the conception of space within art. In their ritualistic gestural bravura, Fontana’s cuts drew upon the increasing focus on action and performance art building in Italy during 1957-58; although the artist embarked upon the first paintings of the series at the end of 1950s, however, the creative inception of his revolutionary tagli (cuts) and their predecessors, the buchi (holes), was articulated as early as 1946 in Fontana's artistic treatise Manifesto Blanco. There, Fontana proposed the concept of Spatialism, which sought to articulate the fourth dimension by instigating a radical dialogue between technology and the very ‘dimensionality’ of painting. Fontana’s innovative conceptual creed expounded upon the theories of earlier Italian Futurists: “Let us open up the figure like a window and close within it the environment in which it lives.” (Lucio Fontana, "Manifesto Blanco," cited in Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato, Vol. II, Milan, 2006, p. 19) Echoing this sentiment in Manifesto Blanco, Fontana appreciatively remarks, “Futurism adopts movement as the only beginning and the only end.” (Lucio Fontana, "Manifesto Blanco," cited in Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato, Vol. II, Milan, 2006, p. 19) As Fontana began again in the creation of the present Concetto Spaziale, Attesa, his blade ineluctably rupturing the radiant surface of the picture plane in pursuit of a new frontier of painterly process, he achieved immediate notoriety for what would become the most radical and categorically groundbreaking artistic gesture of recent art history.

While the breathtaking schism of Concetto Spaziale, Attesa enacts a victorious overturn of the dominant aesthetic dogma of Renaissance spatial reasoning, the shimmering radiance of the golden canvas recalls the magnificent opulence which characterizes the gilded ornamental programs of religious antiquity, wherein precious materials signified the presence of the divine. Unmistakably wrought by a human hand, the slim fissure of the tagli through the luminous surface of the present work powerfully recalls the stigmata gouged into innumerable gilded altarpieces, the dark caesura a contemporary echo of the wounds of Christ on the cross. Fontana remarks, “My cuts are above all a philosophical statement, an act of faith in the infinite, an affirmation of spirituality. When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter, a man at one with the immensity of the present and of the future.” (The artist quoted in Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2006, p. 23) The indisputable tension between unity and rupture, beauty and brutality, transcendent serenity and unspeakable violence in Concetto Spaziale, Attesa appropriates the divine consequence of centuries old religious iconography in a thrilling inquiry of the infinite cosmos: an altarpiece for the modern age. 

Exemplifying the central tenets of Fontana’s celebrated career, Concetto Spaziale, Attesa enacts a fascinating dialogue between the richly sensual golden canvases of his Venice cycle of 1961 and the dazzling metallic sheets of his commanding New York metal works, executed simultaneously to the present work. Describing the allure metal held, as both medium and muse, for Fontana, scholar Luca Massimo Barbero remarks, “The artifice of metallic color, its mimetic, symbolic, reflective quality, had always fascinated Fontana: metal, the way light reflects from it and at the same time penetrates, revealing its plasticity, had always represented a challenge for him…The silver and gold-colored Oils perfectly illustrate that sculptural ambiguity of his painting”. (Exh. Cat., Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2007, p. 24) Inspired by the island of gilded devotional wonders, the lavishly shimmering surfaces of the Venice paintings, their façades inlaid with vibrant shards of Murano glass, recall the mosaics of St. Mark’s and the exalted splendor of the Byzantines; in contrast, the rippling copper, brass and aluminum expanses of the Metals powerfully invoke the soaring skyscrapers, roaring machinery, and immense mass of New York, summoning the metropolis as thrilling fulfillment of a Futurist dream. In both cycles, as in the present work, the emphatic gesture of Fontana’s descending blade ruptures the lavish metallic surface, serving as both homage and challenge to these enduring emblems of man’s triumph over architectural space. Building upon these earlier impressions, the refined elegance of Concetto Spaziale, Attesa articulates the Spatialist Manifesto upon a universal scale, Fontana’s iconic rupture amplified beyond a single time or space; reflecting upon the tagli several years after the creation of the present work, Fontana concluded: “With the tagli, I have invented a formula that I think I cannot perfect…. I succeeded in giving those looking at my work a sense of spatial calm, of cosmic rigor, of serenity with regard to the Infinite. Further than this I could not go.” (The artist cited in Pia Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana: The Artist’s Materials, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 58) Precisely scoring the immaculate golden ground, the exquisite precision of the dark schism ruptures the taut picture plane with unspeakable force, the mark of Fontana’s blade encapsulating tradition, modernity, and the infinite in a single deliberate gesture.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York