Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction


Lucio Fontana
1899 - 1968
signed and titled on the reverse

oil and glitter on canvas

60 by 53cm.; 23⅝ by 20⅞in.
Executed in 1963-4.
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McRoberts & Tunnard, London
Galerie M.E. Thelen, Essen
Friedrich Karl Johnssen, Essen
Sale: Sotheby's, London, The Johnssen Collection of Post-War & Contemporary Art, 25 June 1986, Lot 567
Art Point Gallery, Tokyo
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1995


Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Lucio Fontana: Concetti Spaziali, 1967, p. 60, no. 46, illustrated
Hannover, Kestner-Gessellschaft, Lucio Fontana, 1968, p. 60, illustrated
Tokyo, Tama Art University Museum, Lucio Fontana 1889 - 1968: Spatial Conception, 1990, p. 50, no. 46, illustrated in colour
Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Museum of Art; Kagoshima, City Museum of Art; Nishinomiya, Otani Memorial Art Museum, Lucio Fontana, 1992, p. 64, no. 25, illustrated in colour


Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, p. 141, no. 63/64 O 9, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 480, no. 63-64 O 9, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Milan 2006, p. 672, no. 63-64 O 9, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Sublimely poised and glowing a celestial magnificence through the shimmer of its metallic glitter, Lucio Fontana's Concetto Spaziale is the brilliant apotheosis of Abstract Spatialism and was thus seminal to the revolution in painting and sculpture that occurred in the middle of the Twentieth Century. Created in 1963, the same year when Lucio Fontana initiated his most important body of work Concetto Spaziale, La Fine di Dio, the present work shares the beauty and status of this series and is an incredibly rare example of Buchi. Simultaneously arresting focus, captivating imagination and emanating intense energy, this sculpted and painted masterwork is sophistication crystallised. Two years earlier in 1961, Yuri Gagarin had pierced the Earth's stratosphere to become the first human in space. His galactic journey proved that existence is not limited by earthly dimensions but is ultimately located in spatial infinity. Even in a century replete with tectonic eruptions, this development was exceptional and among the masters of twentieth-century art, it was Lucio Fontana whose contemporaneous work best crystallises it. Like all truly great artists, he both revolutionised precedent and created a conceptual ideology whose new perspective simultaneously reflected and impacted on his own time. By 1963 Fontana had achieved extensive renown and critical acclaim as the progenitor of Spatialism: he had been pioneering and perfecting the rejection of the figurative and material in search of capturing movement and space since the mid 1940s. Fontana's artistic disposition was characterised by untiring investigation into the boundary between sculpture and painting through an inimitable gestural vocabulary.

Key to the sensory intoxication provoked by Concetto Spaziale is its metallic appearance and the radiant luminosity of its deep bronze colour. This work evinces subtle gradations in tone and hue according to the varied dispersion of bronze glitter on top of its intense green ground. In addition, the reflections of the glitter cause a spectrum of light intensities. The grass green paint and metallic shimmer between rasping discordance and smelting unity according to the play of light across the surface. Two independent vibrations sounded together, the green and bronze compliment each other in a relationship that evokes the terre verte under-painting of flesh tones and gold leaf in medieval egg-tempera painting.

Concetto Spaziale punctured surface bears affinity with the Moon. Regarding the series contemporaneous to its creation, Whitfield has noted that with La Fine di Dio "The damage seems as random as the scars on the moon left by the countless impacts of meteorites" (Sarah Whitfield in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, Hayward Gallery, Lucio Fontana, 1999-2000, p. 46). Innumerable meteorites and asteroids are an endless cosmic phenomenon and in some ways the surface of the Moon testifies to the true nature of Space: random and chaotic with the constant threat of arbitrary destruction. By contrast, the surface of Earth is shielded by its atmosphere, the pressure of which burns most meteoroids and causes the elegant tail fires of shooting stars. We can therefore finally consider Fontana's masterpiece in aptly parallel terms. Through the violence of gashed squarcio, and scratched graffiti, Concetto Spaziale authors the true nature of our condition: immersed in the unfathomable depths of Infinity and lost in the intangible Void.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction