The Spatial Revolutions Of Lucio Fontana
Author: Francesca Iani
Lucio Fontana (1899-1969) is certainly one of the most famous Italian artists in the global artistic panorama. The revolution, upheld by him in the art world with the conception of the art movement Spatialism, inspired many of the following generations. Fontana, the artist of holes and cuts, who raised wonder, irony, skepticism, consent and discord through his emblematic works, is still today one of the key figures of contemporary art. Emblematic of revolutionary theories on space, his Spatial Concepts, his Holes, his Cuts keep leaving the art world (but not only!) breathless, to such an extent that his works have inspired even the gourmet dishes of the starred chefs Eugenio Boer and Massimo Bottura.
Why the cuts?
Many have been, are, and will always be critical towards the most significant gesture of 20th-century art: “I could have done it myself” is the most repeated sentence of the skeptical beholders in front of Fontana’s works. Yet, that gesture encloses a variety of meanings, innovations, experimentations, brilliance, contributing to make Fontana an Artist with capital A. Fontana does not consider the canvas a mere support designated to the artistic activity. He treats the canvas as matter and, as such, it must be worked, molded, modified until its definitive surpass. The cuts of Fontana, or the holes he creates on the canvas, stand especially for a research on spatial still unexplored potentiality, of art places beyond the canvas. And this is what keeps fascinating the observer in front of his works.
The graphic production
Perhaps a lesser known aspect about Fontana is that he was a graphomaniac and he used to draw often, not only projects that he had in mind, but also scenes, sketches, woman portraits etc. Next to his paintings, Fontana’s works on paper represent a true graphic and conceptual map of the artist’s thought and research. Over 40 years, from 1928 to 1968, the amount of works realized on paper (5700 archived works!) is astonishing; and they are emblematic of one of the most significant and inventive creative avantgarde expressions of the last century.
Let us keep in mind that the very first revolutionary works like the Holes of 1949 were made on paper, just like the sheets of paper canvas that Fontana lacerated to achieve his first Cuts. Paper is thus the ideal material for the artist, on which he can experiment, leave a mark, hasten the plastic works, yet still managing to maintain a strong autonomy.
Records of Fontana
It is hard to imagine the success of the last editions of the Italian Sales without the leadership of Fontana’s artworks. The new Italian record was scored last week: one Spatial Concept with four cuts on red background (73 x 60 cm.), sold for 2,4 million euros, reached the highest price at the latest auction at Sotheby’s. But it is especially the series of 38 reproductions of Spatial Concept, The End of God, realized since 1963, that obtained the most important results at the auctions of the last years, i.e. the oil painting Spatial Concept, The End of God of 1964 sold at Christie’s, New York, for 29,173,000 dollars.
Enigmatic artist: he spoke very little yet produced very much in his life. The only certainty is that Lucio Fontana has always understood how to amaze.