Enrico Crispolti, Fontana: Catalogo Generale, Vol. II, Milan 1986, p. 488, no. 65 O 4, illustrated
Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana: Catalogo Ragionato di Sculture, Dipinti, Ambientazioni, Vol. II, Milan 2006, p. 680, no. 65 O 4, illustrated
There is a clear distinction between Spazialismo and these other movements. To start, Fontana induced a material revolution in the forms used to create artworks; emphasising new technologies and media out of a fascination with the strange, postmodern explorations of early space travel. Believing these pursuits to place ordinary domestic experiences in an uncanny light – indeed, believing them to strip the ‘everyday’ object of any non-relational existence – Fontana also ensured that Spazialismo redefined the art object as not just irreducibly related to its surrounding context, but fundamentally constituted by it. It follows from these ideas that Fontana conceived of the viewer, too, as essential to works like Concetto Spaziale; a thesis whose powerful political consequences Fontana deliberately underplayed. Stressing more the mystery of this involvement, Fontana confered to Concetto Spaziale a cosmic aura. Confronted with the strange, lunar circle enclosing the gaping hole of the present work, we feel, as viewers, implicated in a beguiling, unknown narrative in which the dramas of the quotidian are rendered tiny and inconsequential.
If the radicalism of Fontana’s Spazialismo was in part attributable to his having lived through two world wars, the aesthetic is also an extension of his earliest artistic projects. Born to Italian parents in Rosario de Santa Fé and having trained as a commercial sculptor, Fontana’s early years were split between Argentina and Italy; a period during which he produced coruscating, polychromatic works displaying a compelling mutual dependency between surface and ambient light. In a fascinating foreshadowing of the movement that would give birth to the present work, Fontana revealed to an interviewer that his “coloured sculpture aims at breaking the sense of stasis with colour, giving the material a connection with space” (Lucio Fontana cited in: ‘El temperamento en el arte argentino: Lucio Fontana’, La Nacion, June 1943, online). Created eighteen years later, Concetto Spaziale gives full expression to Fontana’s nascent philosophical ruminations on space and utterly enshrines the artist’s wholly radical spatio-temporal body of mature works.
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