Spotlight: Lucio Fontana (Italian-Argentine; 1899-1968), Concetto Spaziale B, 1968

Lucio Fontana (Italian-Argentine; 1899-1968), Concetto Spaziale B, 1968. Etching and aquatint with embossing and punched holes on wove paper (Edition: 196/210), 25 1/4 x 18 3/4 inches, Franco Collection, Auburn University at Montgomery.

Catalogue entry by Ivey Scott

Concetto Spaziale B, of 1968, is by Argentine-Italian painter, sculptor, ceramicist, and theorist, Lucio Fontana. He is best known as the founder of Spatialism. He was born in Argentina to two Italian immigrants. His father, Luigi Fontana, was also a sculptor. Lucio Fontana attended the Istituto Tecnico Carlo Cattaneo in Milan, served in World War 1, but was dismissed a year later, due to injuries, and studied sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. He left the school to work in his father’s studio, then had his own studio, and in the late 1920’s, he moved back to Milan to go back to Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. In 1946, Fontana co-wrote his first essay on spatialism, called “White Manifesto.” In this essay, he proposed expanding art into a fourth dimension. A year later, he wrote the “Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo,” and founded the Movimento spaziale.

It was not until he was 50 years old, that Fontana produced his first perforated canvases, which later became his signature contribution and defined his work. He rejected traditional methods, techniques, and materials, to invent something new, and in response to he rapidly changing world that he lived in. Fontana reinterpreted the limits of art by thinking of works of art as concepts of space He used gestures to create holes and tears in canvases to disclose previously unseen spatial areas. Fontana was captivated by the Futurists’ rejection of the traditional ways of art, and he encouraged artists to make their own work, rather than sustaining the exhausted traditional normalities that do not help contemporary artists achieve their potential.

Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale B, of 1968, was created by etching and aquatint, with embossing and punched holes on woven paper. It is the 196th edition, out of 210, and is 25 1/4 x 18 3/4 inches. This work of art is in the Franco Collection, at Auburn University at Montgomery. Concetto Spaziale B, is from his series, Concetto Spaziale, or “spacial concept.” This work, along with the others in the series, shows how Fontana implemented his theory of Spatialism into his artwork. He punched holes into the woven paper to expose the reality of the paper as a material object to the viewer. This also allows the artwork to be experienced without formal preconceptions. We can see how, “Destruction and creation were bound together in these works. The same gesture that negated the canvas as a purely pictorial vehicle also opened up its sculptural possibilities.” (Spatial Concept ‘Waiting,’ The Tate) His works pushed the boundaries of painting at the time and speak to his innovative theories, while also making way for later developments in art.

Sources:

“Lucio Fontana,” TATE Artist Index, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/lucio-fontana-1102

“Fontana, Lucio,” The Art Story, https://www.theartstory.org/artist/fontana-lucio/

“Spatial Concept ‘Waiting,’” The Tate, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/fontana-spatial-concept-waiting-t00694

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