Lot 24
  • 24

Lucio Fontana

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


  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attese
  • signed, titled and inscribed 1 + 1 - 78 AET on the reverse
  • waterpaint on canvas
  • 73 by 60 cm. 28 3/4 by 23 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 1962.


Giani Zini, Bologna

Sotheby’s, London, 2 July 1987, Lot 664

Gallery Art Point, Tokyo

Private Collection, Japan

Sotheby’s, London, 10 December 1999, Lot 154

Private Collection, Italy

Acquired from the above by the previous owner

Thence by descent to the present owner


Tokyo, Tama Art University Museum, Lucio Fontana, Spatial Conception, June – September 1990, p. 47, no. 43, illustrated in colour

Tokyo, The Yomiuri Shimbun; Tokyo, Mitsukoshi Museum of Art; Kagoshima, Museo Municipale d’Arte; Nishinomiya, Otani Museum of Art, Lucio Fontana, La penetrazione dello spazio, April – November 1992, p. 79, no. 40, illustrated in colour


Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogue raisonné des peintures, sculptures et environnements spatiaux, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, p. 132, no. 62 T 20, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Fontana, Catalogo generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 445, no. 62 T 20, illustrated

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 631, no. 62 T 20, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Comprising a bravura ballet of nine flawless cuts incised into a two-dimensional monochrome surface, Concetto Spaziale, Attese is a mesmerising display of Lucio Fontana’s most radical and recognised series of works, the tagli (cuts). As a disruptive intervention into the traditional, two-dimensional flatness of the canvas, Fontana’s slashing of the medium became a symbolic, visual, and conceptual act that would not only redefine the recessional Italian artistic landscape but have wide-reaching international influence.

The artistic theory behind the creation of Fontana’s revolutionary tagli, and before them his buchi (holes), was professed in Fontana's first manifesto, the Manifesto Blanco, published in 1946. Here Fontana proposed the concept of Spatialism, which sought to articulate the fourth dimension and sparked a unique dialogue with the ‘dimensionality’ of painting. Not only did Fontana invite three dimensions into the traditionally flat canvas ground, but his rupture of the picture plane and revelation of a blackened void beyond, implored a metaphysical dialogue with the fourth dimension and its enigmatic comingling of both time and space. A fascination with the unknowable void and concept of energy as an invisible force are summated by the mesmerising effect of Fontana’s defined slashes. As outlined by the artist: “with the slash I invited a formula that I don’t think I can perfect. I managed with this formula to give the spectator an impression of spatial calm, of cosmic rigour, of serenity in infinity” (Lucio Fontana cited in: Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni,Vol I, Milan 2006, p. 105).

Fontana’s ambition to visually activate space was certainly connected to his background as a sculptor; however, such a deviation of the flat picture plane was equally rooted in mankind’s collective striving for scientific and technological advancement. For instance, Albert Einstein’s fusion of time and space into one continuum is echoed in Fontana’s synthesis of dimensions. Via the seemingly abyssal slashes that permeate his canvases, Fontana symbolically suggests a dimension beyond both the two-dimensional canvas support and a three-dimensional, sculptural, suggestion of space. This fixation with unknowable dimensions should be understood against a contemporaneous context of cosmic exploration; at the same moment Fontana began his tagli, news stories of the 'space race' captivated audiences all over the world. Indeed, Fontana’s Spatialist theories echo an age utterly dominated by news of space exploration and discovery. In 1957 the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, into orbit; in 1959, the Soviets landed probe Luna 2 on the moon; and in 1961 the very first outer-space flight was made by Yuri Gagarin. The space race permeated political rhetoric internationally, establishing the moon as the next frontier for human exploration. With punctured picture planes and lacerated canvases Fontana hypothesised overturning accepted norms of three-dimensional Cartesian space by invoking and venturing into an abyssal and void-like fourth dimension.

As such, not only is Concetto Spaziale, Attese an unquestionable masterpiece from one of the most influential post-war artists, it is a historically fascinating document of an age in which the most fundamental notions of human existence came under intense scrutiny and were redefined in previously unthinkable ways. Elaborated across a field of unparalleled contemplative beauty, Lucio Fontana’s unmatched and ambitious contribution to the philosophical landscape of the post-war era marks Concetto Spaziale, Attese as a work of crucial art historical importance.