Concetto Spaziale, Attese is the latest in a series of three hexagonal canvases created by the artist between 1959 and 1960. Fontana’s stylistic announcement of what will be the quanta is evident in these works; throughout these key years he produced numerous small, cut polygonal canvases in often flashy colors.
The subject work is a complex canvas; the spatial placement of the cuts is combined with a very deliberate choice in the canvas’ shape. Geometrically, the hexagon is one of very few shapes that can circumscribe the largest area for a given perimeter. It is therefore one of the most common organic shapes found in nature, from the honeycomb of a beehive to the stone columns in Giant’s Causeway in Ireland.
The importance of the hexagonal shape in nature contributes to Fontana’s spatial thinking. One could imagine a series of united Concetto Spaziale, Attese—one next to another—as if they were cells of a honeycomb. Each canvas would be the card of an infinite grid. In their uniqueness, every single work would also represent the infinity of the grid and the fundamental base of all that nature builds from.
The idea of the infinite represented in a finite form is something that artists have experimented with in the past. Claude Monet’s last Givenchy Pond canvases play with this theme, with heaven and earth merging and reflecting each other as if in a mirror, with no beginning or end. The macrocosm is represented in the microcosm of the canvas and its own spatial limits.
Concetto Spaziale, Attese represents the most mature phase of Fontana’s artistic career, in which the meaning of the cut, now eviscerated and deepened, fades into the background. A new chapter for the artist emerges, focused on the importance of the shape of the support itself as a way to represent the infinite.
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