Lot 10
  • 10

Lucio Fontana

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
422,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Teatrino
  • signed and titled on the reverse; inscribed per Nanda Vigo on the stretcher
  • waterpaint on canvas and lacquered wood


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1966-67


Genova, Galleria La Polena, Fontana + Vigo, 1968


Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures et Environments Spatiaux, Vol. IIBrussels 1974, p. 173, no. 65 TE 67, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 608, no. 65 TE 67, illustrated

Luisa Bonivento, "Lo Scarabeo sotto una [sic.] Foglia", Casa Oggi, No. 247, March 1995, p. 34, illustrated in colour

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 796, no. 65 TE 67, illustrated

Catalogue Note

A luminous white picture plane that has been elegantly punctured with Lucio Fontana's signature buchi and is contained by a candidly shaped wooden frame, the present work is a refined paradigm of the artist's celebrated series of Teatrini. Created between 1964 and 1966 the series was executed just after his venerated La fine di Dio cycle, and embodied the artist's ambition to create a physical landscape representative of spatial infinity. Dedicated "per Nanda Vigo", the present work pays tribute to the famous architect and designer. A key presence within the Milanese avant-garde movements of the 1960s, Vigo advocated a Spatialist theory that explored the possibilities of sensory stimuli through the use of industrial materials such as glass, mirrors and neon lights. Hired by Gio Ponti to collaborate on the interior design of the architectural landmark Lo scarabeo sotto la foglia in Malo, her role in the creation of this immersive visionary environment is attested to through Fontana's dedication: an indication not only of Vigo's reputation within the Italian avant-garde, but also of Fontana's genuine appreciation for the distinct artistic vision embodied in Lo scarabeo sotto la foglio

Conveying a powerful sense of three-dimensionality through the presence of its lacquered frame Concetto Spaziale, Teatrino hovers exhilaratingly on the cusp of sculptural form. Literally, ‘little theatres’, the Teatrini were not built following conventional laws of perspective in art. The inclusion of frames within the works encouraged an intriguing form of visual illusionism. Whilst the shape of a proscenium stage is cleverly evoked, the vertical spurs of wood at the base of Concetto Spaziale, Teatrino suggest the presence of an audience, and by inference, placing the viewer in the row directly behind: the onlooker is thus caught up within an intricate tableau of seeing versus looking. As observed by Erika Billeter, "the Teatrini look like small stages upon which silhouettes of trees and bushes lead their magic existence" (Erika Billeter in: Exhibition Cataloge, New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Lucio Fontana, 1977, p. 19). The viewer's eye and mind are forced to meditate upon what mysteries lie beyond the canvas surface.

This body of work was executed as a direct response to the growing phenomenon of space exploration, sparked by Yuri Gagarin's first trip in 1961. Profoundly impressed by the restless achievements of science and the revolutionary advancements in this field, Fontana aspired to find a poetic articulation and an aesthetic metaphor for the conquest of space. Advanced in five manifestos published from 1947 to 1952, Spatialism articulated Fontana’s ideas regarding the infinite and man’s existence in multiple dimensions. His famous tagli (cuts) and buchi (holes), like those, which adorn the present work, were radical acts intended to liberate the canvas from two-dimensional illusionism and incorporate the third and fourth dimensions: depth and time. Contemporaneous with mankind's first explorations into space, Concetto Spaziale, Teatrino captures within its extraordinary topography a revolutionary and unique perspective on human experience.

Describing the teatrini, Enrico Crispolti wrote: “the sharpness of the lacquered shaped frames and the clean grounds of sky traversed by ordered constellations of holes indicate a new desire to create an objectified configuration of a kind of spatial ‘spectacle’, which Fontana presents with an almost classical imaginative composure” (Encrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. I, Milan 2006, p. 79). As Crispolti suggested the teatrini represent the climatic illustration of Spatialism itself. Staging Fontana’s multi-dimensional quest to transcend the confines of the canvas ground, the teatrini create a spectacle that draws the viewer into Fontana's model of the universe, dramatically delineating the artist's revolutionary vision.