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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, JAPAN

Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESE
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600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 795,000 GBP
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40

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, JAPAN

Lucio Fontana
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESE
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Artist's Resale Right
Purchase of lots marked with this symbol will be subject to the payment of the artist's resale right.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 795,000 GBP
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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London

Lucio Fontana
1899 - 1968
CONCETTO SPAZIALE, ATTESE
signed, titled and inscribed oggi è Giovedì domani è Venerdì on the reverse
waterpaint on canvas
55.3 by 46.2 cm. 21 3/4 by 18 1/4 in.
Executed in 1966.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Stampatore Sergio Tosi, Milan
Thomas Newman, Opio
Sotheby’s, New York, 21 May 1983, Lot 522A (consigned by the above)
Fujii Gallery, Tokyo (acquired from the above sale)
Private Collection, Japan (acquired from the above)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Literature

Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures, Sculptures et Environnements Spatiaux, Vol. II, Brussels 1974, p. 187, no. 66 T 94, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 647, no. 66 T 94, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 842, no. 66 T 94, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Three bold incisions slice through the pure white canvas of Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese. Executed in 1966, the painting offers a resplendent example of the Italian artist’s iconic series of tagli, or cuts, in which dramatically rendered slashes unfurl to evoke an abyss of darkness beyond the picture plane. Created at the height of Fontana’s influential career, the tagli exemplify the artist’s radical notion of Spazialismo, or Spatialism. First penned in his Manifesto Blanco (White Manifesto) of 1946, and subsequently developed over five formative Spatialist Manifestos written between 1946 and 1952, Fontana’s concept of Spatialism called for an art that would embrace the scientific and technological advancements of the Twentieth Century. Produced during an epoch defined by the so-called ‘Space Race’, the tagli hence came to represent the mysterious and infinite dimensions of the universe. "The discovery of the Cosmos is that of a new dimension,” the artist declared; “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 cited in: Exh. Cat., Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Lucio Fontana: Venice/New York, 2006, p. 19).

The three slashes in Concetto Spaziale, Attese have been rendered with absolute clarity and precision. Working on a still-damp canvas, Fontana would execute his iconic tagli with decisive, downward movements, using the blade of a Stanley knife. He would then gently widen the incisions with his fingers and curve them inwards before applying black gauze to the reverse, so as to heighten the appearance of infinite space beyond the picture plane. In rupturing the canvas with his revolutionary artistic gesture, Fontana sought, both physically and metaphorically, to shatter the traditional support of illusionistic art history. Indeed, as if hovering between the realms of painting and sculpture, the tagli dance rhythmically across the pristine surface of the present work, creating a dynamic interplay between light and shadow, white and black, space and depth. In an essay on Fontana’s 1977 retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, art historian Erika Billeter contemplated the artist’s pioneering visual syntax, stating: “With one bold stroke he pierces the canvas and tears it to shreds. Through this action he declares before the entire world that the canvas is no longer a pictorial vehicle and asserts that easel painting, a constant in art heretofore, is called into question. Implied in this gesture is both the termination of a five-hundred year evolution in Western painting and a new beginning, for destruction carries innovation in its wake” (Erika Billeter cited in: ibid., p. 21). Through its paradoxical gesture of annihilation, Concetto Spaziale, Attese becomes a symbol of rebirth and regeneration, at once serene and beautiful, violent and raw.  

In the very same year the present work was created, Fontana designed an immersive spatial environment adorned with white tagli for the XXXIII Venice Biennale of 1966 – an installation that won him the grand prize. Positioned around the walls of the cloister-like spaces, Fontana meditatively explored the relationship between destruction and creation through the primacy of the pure white canvas ground and the deep, violent incisions. It is in this striking contrast between the illuminated surface and the darkness of the void that Concetto Spaziale, Attese reaches the height of its potent intensity, as past and present compellingly collide. As the artist himself proclaimed: “My cuts are above all a philosophical statement, an act of faith in the infinite, an affirmation of spirituality. When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter; a man at one with the immensity of the present and of the future” (Lucio Fontana cited in: ibid., p. 23).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

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London