Galerie Aronowitsch, Stockholm
Acquired from the above by the previous owner
Thence by descent to the present owner
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Vol. I, Milan 2006, p. 427, no. 60 O 70, illustrated
Lucio Fontan cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana, Venice/ New York, 2006, p. 19.
Lucio Fontana, the master of Spatialism, pioneered a practice fundamentally driven by the promethean ascent of mankind’s technological evolution. Taking on the mantle and expanding the aims of Futurism, Fontana propelled artistic creation into the fourth dimension of space/time to herald the end of an old pictorial order. Indeed, by the time of the creation of this sumptuous Concetto Spaziale at the beginning of the 1960s, superpower politics were utterly consumed by the race for space. Herein, this painting, which belongs to Fontana’s formative series of Olii, posits a new form of artistic expression that philosophically responds to man’s technological liberation from the earth.
Utilising the ovoid shape that characterised many of his early oil paintings from that period and that culminated in the iconic Fine di Dio series of 1963, Concetto Spaziale assimilates the most important motifs of Fontana’s career – the egg, the sun, the puncture. A unique amalgamation of texture and pigment coalesce to produce a radiant two-toned surface. The central expanse of pure white paint is violated with streaks of jabbed holes that range in size from pinpricks to small slits. Contained by the enigmatic ovoid perimeter, poignantly described by Fontana as “the path of man in space, his dismay and horror of going astray”, they recall distant solar constellations and the tantalising promise of a new dimension (Lucio Fontana cited in: Barbara Hess, Lucio Fontana, 1899-1968: A New Fact In Sculpture, Cologne 2006, p. 68).
Having broadcast his theory of Spatialism in five manifestos between 1946 and 1952, Fontana was to forge unthinkable advancements in artistic ideology, seeking to create a new age of Spatialist art that engaged technology and found expression for a fourth dimension and Infinity. Having been almost exclusively a sculptor until his forties, his oeuvre consistently referenced an artwork's material properties. Fontana's inquiry into the indeterminate zone between painting and sculpture was rooted in his abstract and figurative sculpture of the 1930s, which tested the gap between solid and void both by carving marks out of material and by creating freestanding marks in space. Even at this early stage Fontana evinced a disregard for traditional techniques and an interest in infinite space that would be significantly developed through painting. In the Natura cycle of imperfectly shaped terracotta spheres (1959-60) deep gashes suggest orifices and geographical fault lines, further freeing the artist from the constraints of two-dimensionality. In Concetto Spaziale Fontana dissects the very concept of painting, undermining forever the flat picture plane. As Fontana declared in his last recorded interview: “I make a hole in a canvas in order to leave behind the old pictorial formulae, the painting and the traditional view of art and I escape, symbolically, but also materially, from the prison of the flat surface” (Lucio Fontana in conversation with Tommaso Trini, 19 July 1968 in: Exh. Cat., Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Lucio Fontana, 1988, p. 34).
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