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.
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