In front of Concetto Spaziale, Attesa the viewer is confronted with a dramatic interplay between contraries; the serene, white picture plane has been slashed with one single movement, opening its taut surface into infinite darkness. The artist regarded his cuts as “an act of faith in Infinity” (the artist quoted in: Pia Gottschaller, Lucio Fontana: The Artist and his Materials, Los Angeles 2012, p. 89). For him, the act of cutting the canvas, far from being an act of negation of the most sacred of artistic mediums, was rather a point of departure from which to delve into a wealth of unexplored possibilities. The title he gave to his slashed canvases (Attese or Expectations) attests to the exploratory attitude with which he regarded them. In his visionary analysis of Fontana’s art, Anthony White described how “in his ‘Cuts’, Fontana drew attention to the materiality of the canvas by cutting into it while retaining the impression of pictorial depth: The monochrome surface invited the viewer to read the cut (…) Fontana sought to create a form within painting that consists of real space” (Anthony White, Lucio Fontana: between Utopia and Kitsch, Massachusetts 2011, p. 221-2). Indeed, Concetto Spaziale, Attesa immediately invites the viewer to “read” it and imagine the process of its creation. Like a performance, the artist kept his corporeal intervention at the centre of the stage: Standing in front of the scrupulously painted, pristine canvas, the artist would execute a rapid movement with his arm, delineating space and plunging the Stanley blade he held into the two-dimensional plane. That crucial moment remained forever captured in the pierced canvas, suspended and timeless yet full of energy and dynamism.
In a true display of his deft control of opposite forces, Fontana’s Conetto Spaziale, Attesa encourages calm contemplation and thought, whilst at the same time exuding energic bravura and rhythmic vivacity. Beautifully balanced and of exquisite elegance, the present work stands at the crux of Fontana’s lifelong questioning of the boundaries between two and three dimensionality, an altogether unique and visionary practice that transformed the artistic panorama of the postwar era.
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