Lot 146
  • 146

Lucio Fontana

450,000 - 650,000 GBP
479,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attesa 
  • signed, titled and inscribed La Teresita a imparato a guidare la macchina on the reverse
  • waterpaint on canvas


Private Collection, Paris
Private Collection, Milan
Centro Arte Internazionale, Rome
Galleria L'Archimede, Rome
Centro Steccata, Milan
Private Collection, Europe


Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures, Sculptures et Environnement Spatiaux, Vol. II, Bruxelles 1974, p. 152, no. 64 T 27, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Fontana Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 520, no. 64 T 27, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti,   Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 711, no. 64 T 27, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Dramatically pierced with one single slash, the lustrous violet surface of Concetto Spaziale, Attesa lures the viewer into an exquisitely articulated sensation of space. The work maintains a perfect balance between the tension of the canvas and the void of the blackness beyond, confronting the viewer with simultaneous ideas of nothingness and infinity. Concetto Spaziale, Attesa is an unparalleled example of Lucio Fontana’s pioneering spatio-temporal investigations. Arguably the most influential Italian artist in the post-war period, Fontana forged a path for modern art that challenged the entire tradition of painting that had come before him.

Fontana first embarked upon his Tagli (cuts) in the autumn of 1958, having developed his conceptual foundation at a dizzying pace and advanced his intellectual theory of Spatialism in five formative manifestos between 1947 and 1952. Fontana’s interest in materiality and negative space revealed itself through the manipulation of his canvases that no longer occupied a place within the historical classifications of painting or sculptural form. Through his experimentation with the surface of painting, Fontana transformed the canvas from a platform on which art is placed upon to an autonomous tool of expression in its own right. The single elongated slash upon a pristine monochromatic background has since become the purest paragon of the ideal incarnated by Fontana’s Taglii.

The slashes and movements of Fontana’s arm was in itself an artwork that existed only at the moment of its inception. This was immortalised by Ugo Mulas’ momentous photographs of Fontana mid-action. This concept can be likened to the explorations of various other avant-garde artists of the mid-Twentieth Century who were similarly questioning the performative act of creating an artwork, such as Nikki de Saint-Phalle. Saint-Phalle created her Shooting Pictures by firing a shotgun at a plaster-covered canvas filled with hidden pockets of liquid paint that would burst from the plaster, covering the white expanse with splashes of unpredictable colour. In this instance a destructive act was performed to create a unique multi-dimensional artwork that was both the byproduct of the act and a work of art in its own right. This concept was being explored by Fontana as early as 1947 in the First Spatialist Manifesto, where Fontana stated, “we don’t care if a gesture, once performed, lives for a moment or a millennium, since we are truly convinced that once performed it is eternal.”

Fontana’s Tagli offered an innovative interpretation of the artist’s gesture that moved it from the surface to penetrating the canvas, and hence opened up an entirely new spatial dimension to the canvas. This infused his work with concepts of space, infinity and the eternal. Surrounded by an era of advancements in space travel and quantum physics, Fontana understood that art, like science, must also compete with a vision of the world comprised of time, matter, energy and the deep void of space. The singular slash in Concetto Spaziale, Attesa creates a perpetual space that continues to exist despite the passage of time, engaging the viewer with a feeling of the cosmic and the metaphysical. This is further enhanced in the present work by the deep, powerful violet that evokes a sense of spirituality and emotion. As such, Fontana’s Tagli have become art that is both relevant to the era of scientific discoveries in which he lived and yet also timeless. As Fontana discussed two years after Concetto Spaziale, Attesa was executed, "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 rigor, of serenity with regard to the infinite. Further than this I could not go." (Lucio Fontana quoted in: Giorgio Bocca, “Il taglio è il taglio: Incontro con Lucio Fontana, il vincitore di Venezia”, Il Giorno, 6 July 1966)

Lucio Fontana’s Tagli established a fixed point of reference for the Italian artistic renewal that was occurring by engaging in discourse with prominent artists of the younger generations, such as Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni. Considered together, the Tagli are his most extensive and varied group of works, which have come to be seen as emblematic of his artistic practice. In its purity of colour and composition, Concetto Spaziale, Attesa is a formidable example of Fontana’s truly groundbreaking conceptual dialogue, embodying the artist’s revolutionary Spatialist theory whilst simultaneously pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic practices.