Lot 139
  • 139

LUCIO FONTANA | Concetto Spaziale, Attesa

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
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  • Lucio Fontana
  • Concetto Spaziale, Attesa
  • inscribed Teresita Fontana sta bene! on the stretcher; signed three times, titled partially and inscribed Teresita sta bene! on the reverse
  • waterpaint on canvas
  • 70 by 71 cm. 27 1/2 by 28 in.
  • Executed in 1959.


Marlborough Galeria d’Arte, Rome 
Baudoin Lebon, Paris 
Galerie Kronstruktiv Tendens, Stockholm
Galerie Pierre, Stockholm 
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Rome, Marlborough Galleria d’Arte, Fontana, March 1964, n.p., illustrated in colour
Stockholm, Galerie Pierre, Fontana, April - May 1964, n.p., no. 8, illustrated in colour


Anon., ‘Lucio Fontana: Manifesto Bianco, 1947’, Paletten, No. 3, Gothenburg 1965, p. 143, illustrated in colour
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures, Sculptures et Environnements Spatiaux, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, p. 89, no. 59 T 112, illustrated
Fabrizio Carbone, Lucio Fontana, La Nación, Buenos Aires, 17 February 1980, p. 13, no. 554, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. I, Milan 1986, p. 299, no. 59 T 112, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Milan 2006, Vol. I, p. 466, no. 59 T 112, illustrated


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonality is slightly lighter and brighter in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. Very close inspection reveals some evidence of light handling marks in isolated places to all five extreme edges. Extremely close inspection reveals some light wear to all five corner tips with some associated minute and superficial losses to the upper, right and lower right extreme corner tips. Extremely close inspection in strong light reveals a very faint pattern of drying craquelure isolated places through. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra violet light.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“The work of art is not eternal; and his creations exist in time, and where man ends, the infinite continues.”
Lucio Fontana, ‘Technical manifesto of Spatialism’, 1951, reproduced in: Guido Ballo, Lucio Fontana, New York 1971, pp. 228-31.  

In Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attesa from 1960, an irregularly-shaped expanse of translucent pale blue monochromy has been dramatically perforated with a single clean incision. Arranged across a pentagonal canvas, the painting presents an arresting variation of the artist’s most iconic gesture – the tagli (cuts). Seeking to liberate painting from the dimensional limitations of abstraction, Fontana first initiated the tagli motif in the autumn of 1958. In boldly slashing his canvases, the artist succeeded in shattering the illusionistic conception of painting as a window into another realm in favour of a more a literal configuration of physical, tangible space. Indeed, his radical motif was to become one of the most profound expressions of infinite depth in the history of painting.

Rare within Fontana’s prolific corpus, the present work is one of only sixteen paintings oriented across an irregularly shaped, five-sided canvas. This poignant formal deviation re-formulates the artist’s synonymous motif as both a corporeal and a devotional object. Characterised by its visceral aperture juxtaposed against a smooth, pristine surface, the present work exemplifies one of Fontana’s most radical conceptual consolidations which designates art as a vehicle for realising the absolute essence of existence.

Proclaimed by Fontana to be the conclusive endpoint of his conceptual enquiry, the tagli constitute the zenith of the artist’s oeuvre. "I have invented a formula that I think I cannot perfect,” he stated of the motif; “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 cited in: Giorgio Bocca, ‘Il taglio è il taglio: Incontro con Lucio Fontana, il vincitore di Venezia’, Il Giorno, 6 July 1966, n.p.). Here the exquisite simplicity of a single impassioned rupture tears down the aesthetic dogma of two-dimensional pictorial rule and the perspectival boundaries of illusionistic painting, opening up an enigmatic cerebral void. Ultimately the tagli express a new conception of physical space in the Twentieth Century and manifest a zeitgeist enlivened by historic events such as the burgeoning space race and Albert Einstein’s theoretical fusion of time and space. Exhibited a few years after its execution in 1964 in both Rome and Stockholm, Concetto spaziale, Attesa is a superb and intriguing iteration of one of the most renowned and influential series of Fontana’s career.