Lot 8
  • 8

Lucio Fontana

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale
  • signed
  • waterpaint and painted Murano glass on canvas
  • 80 by 100cm.; 31 1/2 by 39 3/8 in.
  • Executed in 1953-54.


Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne

Private Collection, Milan

Tiziano De Clemente, Milan

Private Collection, Milan

Sale: Sotheby's, London, Post War and Contemporary Art, 1 December 1988, Lot 657

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Cologne, Galerie Karsten Greve, Lucio Fontana: Plastiken und Bilder 1953-1962, 1980

Milan, Centro Annunciata, Lucio Fontana Ispiratore dello Spazialismo, 1983, no. 14, illustrated

Bologna, Gallerie Comunale d'Arte Moderna, L'Informale in Italia. Mostra dedicata a Francesco Arcangeli, 1983, p. 145, no. 7, illustrated


Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. I, Milan 1986, p. 124, no. 53-54 P 1, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. I, Milan 2006, p. 264, no. 53-54 P 1, illustrated

Catalogue Note

With its glistening array of jewel-like colour fragments encapsulating an interplay of light and shadow, Concetto Spaziale belongs to Lucio Fontana's revered series of Pietre works, a title stemming from the semi-translucent elements of Murano glass delicately adorning their surface. The sparkling constellation of luminous stones dispersed on a galactic black expanse creates an encapsulating visual achievement. Dating from 1952–1956 this range of works followed the artist's revolutionary Buchi or holes, often considered the starting point for Fontana's ground-breaking Spatialist exploration, to which the artist had been singularly committed since first piercing the surface of a canvas in 1949. A poetic contrast of solid materiality and spatial emptiness Concetto Spaziale is a significant early example of one of Fontana’s most iconic series.

Having principally trained as a sculptor Fontana possessed an intuitive grasp of three-dimensional objects. Though famed for his work on canvas, he considered himself a sculptor and Spatialist foremost. From the making of his Scultura Spaziale of 1947 onwards he would embark on extensive spatial research, creating his subsequent Concetto Spaziale or Spatial Concepts, ground-breaking artistic achievements bestowed with a fundamentally sculptural identity. Piercing the traditional barrier of the two-dimensional canvas to create a series of Buchi, Fontana depicted the uncharted area behind the picture plane, a radical exploration, which opened up a wealth of new artistic possibility. As stated by the artist in 1962: "By making a hole in the picture I found a new dimension in the void… I invented the fourth dimension" (Lucio Fontana in conversation with Grazia Livi in:  Vanità 6, no. 13, 1962, pp. 52-57). By revealing the invisible, the inconceivable limitlessness of the universe is encapsulated in the microcosm of gauged holes.  Echoing the contemporaneous explorations into the incomprehensible vastness of the universe, Fontana creates an art that distinctly reflects the scientific developments of his time, and truly heralds the Space Age. With this radical move away from the two-dimensionality of the picture plane towards an art that would render a new dimension, Fontana gained his reputation as the Spatialist master of the Twentieth Century.

A poetic balance between permeation and projection Fontana’s Pietre imbue the canvas with captivating sculptural projections of light and colour, establishing a natural advancement from the Buchi works. The artist himself explained: “When I began using the stones I wanted to see if I could move forward…I thought that with the stones, the light would flow better” (Lucio Fontana in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, Hayward Gallery, Lucio Fontana, 1999, p. 17). The monochrome severity of the deep black background is interspersed by glistening gold and blue aureoles, bestowing the surface with a captivating luminosity, immediately evocative of the cosmos’ radiant symphony of a star lit sky. As the jagged surface of the gem-like stones subtly capture and disperse glimmering flashes of colour, light and shadow commands the work. A formal circle of Buchi that rupture the flawless monochromatic surface, restrain the semi-random disposition of the jewelled stones.  Controlled by a carefully ordered composition, the tension of the two counter forces of penetration and protrusion directly reflects Fontana’s unique artistic mission to explore the intangible depths of space and matter beyond the perimeters of the two-dimensional picture plane.

With its pervasive sense of light, space and glittering materiality Concetto Spaziale is both a riveting example of Fontana's Pietre, as well as an essential precursor to his continued Spatialist investigation, which anticipated the creation of his later series of iconic slashes and the highest achievement of his career - La Fine di Dio. An uncompromising quest for a modern visualisation of all four dimensions of space the painting makes for an astounding contribution to the visual language of modern art.