34
34
Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
Estimate
3,000,0004,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
34
Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
Estimate
3,000,0004,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Lucio Fontana
1899 - 1968
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESA
signed, titled and inscribed Il "Flauto Magico" di Mozart, che meraviglia!! Mi fa male la gamba destra o quella sinistra? on the reverse
waterpaint on canvas
36 1/4 by 28 7/8 in. 92.1 by 73.3 cm.
Executed in 1967.
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Provenance

Adolf Neumeier, Rome 
Studio Condotti, Rome 
Galleria Arte Borgogna, Milan 
Tornabuoni Arte, Florence 
Private Collection (acquired from the above) 
Christie's, London, October 18, 2013, Lot 76 (consigned by the above)
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

Paris, Tornabuoni Art, A Cura di Enrico Crispolti, October - November 2009, p. 142, illustrated

Literature

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogue Raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spaciaux, Vol. II, Brussels, 1974, p. 192, no. 67 T 52, illustrated 
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan, 1986, p. 664, no. 67 T 52, illustrated
Exh. Cat., Paris, Museé National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Lucio Fontana, 1987-88, p. 337, illustrated (reverse of the present example)
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan, 2006, p. 858, no. 67 T 52, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Pierced with a dramatic single black slash, Concetto spaziale, Attesa is a magnificent large example of the artist’s iconic Tagli series. Abolishing the boundary between painting and sculpture, Fontana’s Tagli are an eloquent and timeless expression of the artist’s Spatialist project, which contended traditional distinctions of space and time and demarcated the possibilities of a fourth dimension. Indeed, Fontana’s liberation of the canvas from the constraints of two-dimensionality was as radical as Pollock’s dramatic handling of pigment; a vigorous yet distinctly measured artistic expression that beautifully balanced spontaneity and control and dramatically ruptured the centuries-old paradigm of painting on canvas. The serene, transcendent white ground in Concetto spaziale, Attesa is only tempered by the punctuating presence of one deep slash, imbued with the subtlest of cursive curves. The utterly pristine surface of the present work delivers an overwhelming visual experience of spectacular clarity that borders on the sublime, the perfect expression of Fontana’s search for "the Infinite, the inconceivable chaos, the end of figuration, nothingness." (Lucio Fontana cited in Exh. Cat., London, Hayward Gallery, Lucio Fontana, 2000, p. 198)

It is in this striking contrast between the white of the surface and the darkness of the void, that the Tagli reach the height of their expression; the aggressive vigor of the single cut appears in a calmingly pristine no-mans-land, unhinged from conventions of time and space. Indeed, Fontana explained that he chose white because it is the “purest, least complicated, most understandable color," that which most immediately struck the note of "pure simplicity," "pure philosophy," "spatial philosophy," and "cosmic philosophy" to which Fontana more than ever aspired during the last years of his life. (Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures et Environments Spatiaux, Vol. I, Brussels 1974, p. 137) This is perhaps why Fontana chose to use only this combination of white ground and black slash in his installation for the XXXIII Venice Biennale in 1966, for which he won the Grand Prize for painting. Furthermore, it was the extra-dimensionality of these white Tagli that Yves Klein whole-heartedly embraced in his exhibition at the Iris Clert Gallery in April 1958. Resonating with Fontana's minimalist language, Klein created an evacuated space, perfectly white in homage to the void.

The deliberate and contemplative use of white has significant connotations beyond its calming purity of spatial dialogue. As Fontana declared in his Manifesto Blanco (White Manifesto) in 1946 and his five formative Spatialist Manifiestos – created between 1946 and 1952 – that art should embrace science and technology. By the 1960s, Fontana’s practice of breaking through the canvas and into a heretofore unexplored territory had gained newfound relevance alongside ground-breaking concurrent advances in space travel. The ‘Space Race’ had established the moon as the next frontier for human exploration and dominated the global political zeitgeist.  Indeed, the present work was created six years after Yuri Gagarin journeyed into space and two years before Neil Armstrong would first set foot on the moon. Therefore, this whiteness is emblematic of the synthetic, smoothed surfaces indicative of such new technologies, which were quite literally transporting humans into an infinite and weightless space. To this end, the telleta (the strip of black gauze positioned behind the cut) is also as central to an interpretation of this work as the narrow incision itself. It implies the blackness of space and the insurmountable nothingness of the cosmological void.

Fontana was explicit with regard to his emulation of the cosmic explorations of his era, and confident in the implication that his actions had for the aesthetic realm: "The discovery of the Cosmos is that of a new dimension, it is the Infinite: thus I pierce this canvas, which is the basis of all arts and I have created an infinite dimension, an x which for me is the basis for all Contemporary Art." (Lucio Fontana cited in Exh. Cat., Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection (and travelling), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2006, p. 19) At a time when space travel was looking less like science fiction and more like a tangible reality, the present work finds a means to enter the realm of the immaterial; not so much to define space as to re-define it, to open it up to a boundless array of possibilities. This work has the effect of marking an event, as it crosses the frontier towards a blinding conceptual and aesthetic point of no return: it collapses past, present and future within the slender abyss of a single cut.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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New York