Lot 18
  • 18

Lucio Fontana

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 GBP
2,484,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attese

  • signed, titled and inscribed Tra vento solare e asteroidi la farfalla cosmica on the reverse
  • waterpaint on canvas in artist's frame


Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome
Alexander Iolas Gallery, New York
Ambassador and Mrs. Piero Vinci, New York
Sale: Christie's, London, Contemporary Art, 25 June 1997, Lot 55
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana 1899-1968: A Retrospective, 1977, p. 88, no. 80, illustrated in colour 


Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, p. 160, no. 65 T 43, illustrated 
Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 565, no. 65 T 43, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 753, no. 65 T 43, illustrated

Catalogue Note

"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" (The artist cited in Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana, Venice/ New York, 2006, p. 19) 

Lucio Fontana's lyrical and elegant Concetto Spaziale, Attese from 1965 is one of the largest examples ever to appear at auction.  The imposing presence of the grand scale of this work and the sharp contrast of the silky white surface with the blackness of the nine vertical black slashes immediately transports the viewer into an almost hypnotic state. 

Exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1977, the beautiful Concetto Spaziale, Attese was included in Fontana's first major retrospective in the United States.  As Erika Billeter states in the introduction of the catalogue: "Lucio Fontana... challenges the history of painting.  With one bold stroke he pierces the canvas and tears it to shreds.  Through this action he declares before the entire world that the canvas is no longer a pictorial vehicle and asserts that easel painting, a constant in art heretofore, is called into question.  Implied in this gesture is both the termination of a five-hundred year evolution in Western painting and a new beginning, for destruction carries innovation in its wake" (Erika Billeter cited in Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana 1899-1968: A Retrospective, 1977, p. 13) 

In the present work, the nine slender slashes almost dance across the canvas as if notes across a score of music.  The monochromatic white of the canvas is virtually mesmerizing and sends almost telepathic messages of serenity and peace.  In the Western world, the colour white is associated with a positive connotation and a white rose is representative of innocence and purity.  White is also a formula for light, and thus energy, and scientists believed that white was the fundamental colour of light, until Newton's work became accepted.  White has also become a prominent colour depicting technology and the future in the 21st Century, which perhaps is Fontana's goal in this work, attempting to further emphasize progress and advancement.  True to his belief, Fontana sought to create enigmatic circumstances for the manifestation of pure space or pure energy before his viewers, and with the colour white, this was even further enhanced, quietly radiating from Concetto Spaziale, Attese.

Drawing on theories from his first Manifesto in 1946 - the Manifesto Blanco (White Manifesto) - Fontana sought to create a new age of art, a "spatialist" art, one that could engage technology to achieve an expression of the fourth dimension.  Fontana's curiosity of the advancements of science and technology during the Twentieth Century inspired him to approach his art as a series of investigations in method and medium.  Attempting to transcend the confines of the two-dimensional picture plane, Fontana envisioned a new art where an intangible fourth dimension would be created to include time in the form of music and movement.  His infamous tagli (cuts) enforce the idea that the painting is an object, not solely a surface, and it was this idea which was to become the foundation for Fontana's aesthetic. 

In 1966, following the year Concetto Spaziale, Attese was executed, Fontana was awarded by the international jury of the 33rd Venice Biennial first prize for painting for his white room, featuring white canvases each with a single vertical slash.