Lot 25
  • 25

Lucio Fontana

800,000 - 1,000,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attese 
  • signed, titled and inscribed Verga, vergone, vergani, vergottini, virgolette on the reverse
  • waterpaint on canvas
  • 64 by 54cm.; 25 1/8 by 21 1/4 in.
  • Executed in 1966.


Private Collection, Milan

Sale: Finarte, Milan, 2 December 1971, Lot 28

Tonina Bedei, Milan

Galleria dei Mille, Bergamo 

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner circa 1973


Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures et Environments Spatiaux, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, pp. 180-81, no. 66 T 7, illustrated 

Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 631, no. 66 T 7, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 825, no. 66 T 7, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

Elegantly composed and exquisitely constructed, Concetto Spaziale, Attese forms part of Lucio Fontana’s on-going investigation into the possibilities of multi-dimensional painting, and was created in 1966, the year in which the artist was awarded the prestigious ‘Gran Premio Internazionale per la Pittura’ at the XXXIII Venice Biennale. Fontana’s installation at the Biennale, entitled Ambiente Spaziale Bianco, featured twenty white canvases of identical size, each with a single taglio. Created in collaboration with the architect Carlo Scarpa, the unadulterated white of the installation’s walls in concert with the uniform purity of the white canvases was intended to be an utterly immersive experience for the viewer: undisturbed by the distraction of bold colour, visitors were encouraged to engage totally with Fontana’s philosophy by gazing at each white Concetto Spaziale, Attesa.

Concetto Spaziale, Attese arguably represents, in its purest form, the tenets outlined by the artist within the 'White Manifesto' (1946) and the legendary First and Second Spatialist Manifestos of 1947-48. Within the latter Manifesto, a rousing call for a new creative language inspired by technological advancement was articulated: “We want painting to emerge from its frame and sculpture from its glass case… Today we spatialist artists have escaped from our tower, we have broken out of our corporeal bodies, our chrysalis, and we have looked down at ourselves from above, photographing the earth from a rocket in full flight” (Lucio Fontana, 'Second Spatialist Manifesto' cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, London, Hayward Gallery, Lucio Fontana, 2000, p. 96). Fontana was fascinated by the possibilities of space exploration, seeing in man’s aspirational quest a parallel to his own artistic journey: the attempts to go beyond the bounds of current human knowledge mirrored the artist’s endeavours to supersede the confines of the canvas ground to access a fourth dimension in which space and time thrillingly converge. Concetto Spaziale, Attese is a superb encapsulation of Fontana’s own creative values: “My cuts are above all a philosophical statement, an act of faith in the infinite, an affirmation of spirituality. When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter, a man at one with the immensity of the present and of the future” (Lucio Fontana quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection (and travelling), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2006-07, p. 23).

Astonishingly, although the tagli are the most iconic of Fontana’s works, the artist did not create his first tagli until 1958, at the commencement of the final decade of his career. Whilst Fontana had first made the radical decision to pierce the canvas ground in 1949 with his series of buchi (holes), the tagli represented a highly significant conceptual development for Fontana, and the artist seems to have considered the series to be the summit of his achievement: “With the taglio… I have invented a formula that I think I cannot perfect… I succeeded in giving those looking at my work a sense of spatial calm, of cosmic rigour, or serenity with regard to the Infinite. Further than this I could not go” (Lucio Fontana quoted in: Pia Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana, The Artist’s Materials, Los Angeles 2012, p. 58). The extraordinary three-dimensionality of the tagli was achieved when, following the original incision, created using a Stanley knife, Fontana would gently shape the edges of the taglio by hand, in a gesture described evocatively as a “caress” (Sarah Whitfield, ‘Handling Space’ in: op. cit., 2003, p. 31). The illusion was further enhanced by the addition of black gauze telletta behind each taglio, a technique Fontana initiated in 1959 and which enabled the shape of each incision to be definitively secured, as well as encouraging the sensation of gazing into a void unimpeded by the presence of a wall behind the canvas. Ultimately, the tagli opened up the canvas surface to unprecedented levels, enabling Fontana to achieve his aesthetic ideal of blurring the boundaries between sculpture and painting.