Lot 8
  • 8

Lucio Fontana

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attese
  • signed, titled and inscribed 1+1-377Y on the reverse 
  • waterpaint on canvas
  • 100 by 81.2cm.; 39 3/8 by 31 7/8 in.
  • Executed in 1961.


Galleria Dell’Ariete, Milan

Beatrice Monti, Milan

Private Collection, Sweden

Christie’s, London, Contemporary Art Part II, 12 December 1997, Lot 165

Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Florence, Palazzo Pitti, Fontana, 1980, n.p., no. 45, incorrectly illustrated

Rimini, Sala Comunale d’Arte Contemporanea, Lucio Fontana: Mostra Antologica, 1982, n.p., no. 15, illustrated in colour


Aldo Santini,’Adesso so Quanta Poesia c’è in quei “Tagli”: Incontriamo la Vedova di Lucio Fontana in Occasione della Grande Mostra di Rimini’, Oggi, 22 September 1982, p. 63, illustrated in colour 

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 439, no. 61 T 80, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 624, no. 61 T 80, illustrated

Catalogue Note

A striking yellow tableau pierced with four dramatic black slashes, Concetto Spaziale, Attese is an unparalleled example of Lucio Fontana’s pioneering spatio-temporal investigations. Executed in 1961, the same year that Yuri Gagarin became the first person to travel into space and only eight years before Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, this extraordinary painting presents an entirely novel form of artistic expression that philosophically responds to man’s technological liberation from the earth. Here four pulsating cuts appear to dance across the silken surface of the canvas, imbuing the work with a vibrant sense of movement that alludes to both the physical and the performative aspect of slashing the two-dimensional picture plane. Furthermore, the invigorating chromatic power of the rich yellow background perfectly echoes German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s infamous Theory of Colours from 1810 which states that “(Yellow) is the colour nearest the light… In its highest purity it always carries with it the nature of brightness, and has a serene, gay, soft exciting character” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theory of Colours, London 1810, pp. 306-7). Bursting with chromatic intensity, Concetto Spaziale, Attese resonates with the confidence of an artist at the very height of his artistic powers.

Having advanced his intellectual theory of Spatialism in five formative manifestos between 1946 and 1952, Fontana was to forge unthinkable advancements in artistic ideology that sought to engage technology and find expression for a fourth dimension – space time. Fontana first embarked upon his tagli in the autumn of 1958 and developed the motif by bathing his canvases in an extensive palette of hues that ranged from vivid oranges and hot pinks, through more muted brown and grey tones, to shimmering baroque golds, silvers and vivid yellows, as evidenced in the present work. Against this panoply of pigments, Fontana further diversified his practice by experimenting with different quantities of slashes. The transgressive incisions in Concetto Spaziale, Attese are imbued with the artist’s unbridled enthusiasm for the incommensurability of space as endless and infinite, yet brimming with the promise of uncharted and boundless adventure – the ultimate realisation of his ground-breaking concept of Spatialism. As outlined by the artist: "The discovery of the Cosmos is that of a new dimension, it is the Infinite: thus I pierce this canvas, which is the basis of all arts and I have created an infinite dimension, an x which for me is the basis for all Contemporary Art" (Lucio Fontana quoted in: Exh. Cat., Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, (and travelling), Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2006, p. 19).

Fontana’s fascination with infinite space led him to become preoccupied by the more general ideas of modern science and “the speed of life” (Lucio Fontana quoted in: Anthony White, Lucio Fontana: Between Utopia and Kitsch, Cambridge 2011, p. 261).  One of the most explicit ways that Fontana explored these notions in his oeuvre was through his use of bold, bright industrialised colours, the slick forms of contemporary design and the daring fashion of the 1960s. As critic Anthony White expands, “With their chic confectionary colours and their sometimes dazzling sprinklings of glitter, these [brightly coloured] works are all surface; as in Andy Warhol’s later series of Diamond Dust paintings from the 1980s, the sensual image of the body is paired with the ephemeral plastic palette of Hollywood glamour and 1960s fashion” (Anthony White, ibid., p. 262). In Concetto Spaziale, Attese the slick yellow surface of the work resonates with all the chic Hollywood glamour of the 60s and offers up a dialogue between post-war European art and the cool allure of American Pop art. Confronting scientific and philosophical theories and combing them with a distinctly contemporary – or even Pop – approach to colour and materiality, Concetto Spaziale Attese is a magnificent example of Lucio Fontana’s iconic tagli.