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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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Lucio Fontana

(1899 - 1968), Argentina

Lucio Fontana was an influential Argentine-Italian artist and theorist, best known for being the father of Spazialismo (also known as Spatialism). His trademark perforated canvases drew both the ire and admiration of critics in the 1950s and 1960s.

Fontana was born in Argentina in 1899 to an Argentinian mother and an Italian father who was a sculptor by trade. Although he moved to Milan in 1905 for his education, Fontana returned to Argentina in 1921 to work in his father's sculpture studio for several years. Later, Fontana established his own studio. In 1926 he participated in the first exhibition of Nexus, a group of independent young Argentine artists. Fontana then went back to Milan in 1927 to study at the Accademia di Brera for two years. As a result of his studies, he had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria del Milione in 1930.

The 1930s saw Fontana begin to develop an expressive abstract style, producing flat bronze and ceramic sculptures such as Scultura Astratta (1934, painted iron). In this period he became involved with the Parisian group Abstraction-Création and the Milanese, anti-fascist artist group Corrente. He also began to collaborate with architects.

When World War II broke out Fontana moved back to Argentina, where in 1946 he founded the Academia Altamira. Collaborative efforts between the students and teachers of the Academy produced the 'Manifiesto Blanco'—a manifesto calling for art that combined elements of colour, movement, sound, time and space. When he moved back to war-ravaged Milan in 1947 Fontana expanded on these ideas and established Movimento Spaziale (Spatialist Movement). In collaboration with other theorists he created the 'Primo Manifesto dello Spazialismo' (First Manifesto of Spatialism). This was one of five manifestos produced between 1947 and 1952. Spatialism, through a deeply philosophical set of ideas, was primarily concerned with escaping the tyranny of the traditional two-dimensional surface. It wanted to project a work into real space, doing so by marrying art and science through new techniques and materials.

In 1949, Fontana exhibited his first 'Spatial Environment' at the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, featuring a giant abstract shape suspended in an empty darkened room and illuminated by curved lines of neon. Later shows on this theme were multi-dimensional experiences, featuring sound, abstract sculptural shapes, luminous paint and fluorescent lighting. The 'Spatial Environment' concept not only pioneered the idea of environmental and installation art, but also, through its unconventional materials and methods, was a forerunner of the Arte Povera movement.

More familiar to an international audience are Fontana's series of perforated abstract works that were begun in the late 1940s and share the title 'Concetto Spaziale' (Spatial Concept). He would paint canvases in monochromatic colours, or simply stretch out a material like linen, then stab the material to create buchi (holes). These holes violate the material's flat surface, exposing the space beneath. The buchi were not the product of random stabbing but formed patterns, whether simple circles, as in Concetto spaziale (Teatrino) (1965, waterpaint on canvas and lacquered wood frame) or complex abstract designs as in 18 Concetto Spaziale, (1960, linen).

In the mid-1950s Fontana added paintings with distinctive tagli (cuts)—vertical or diagonal slashes made with a sharp blade on a monochrome surface—to his repertoire. These incisions reveal the black gauze on the back of the canvas, contrasting the monochrome surface to create the impression of an infinite void.

From the mid- to late 1950s, Fontana also violated the two-dimensional surface of the canvas with embedded pieces of coloured glass, scratches and coloured areas mixed with sand. By breaching the surface of the two-dimensional canvas in such ways Fontana blurred the lines between painting, sculpture and expressive gesture. He began introducing breaches and punctures into his ceramics as well, continuing to work in his distinctive surface-disrupting style until his death in 1968.

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Concetto Spaziale by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, 1953–1955 Painted ceramic
32 x 32 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Concetto Spaziale by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, 1955 Gouache on paper
47.6 x 68.9 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Concetto Spaziale, [Attesa] by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, [Attesa], 1964 Waterpaint on canvas
37 x 25 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Concetto Spaziale, Attesa by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, Attesa, 1964 Waterpaint on canvas
46 x 38 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Concetto Spaziale, [Attesa] by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, [Attesa], 1967 Waterpaint on canvas
61.5 x 50 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Concetto Spaziale by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, 1951 Gouache and graffiti on paper
59.6 x 47.8 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Corrida by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaCorrida, 1948–1950 Glazed ceramic
48 x 48 x 9 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts
Aquiles (David) by Lucio Fontana contemporary artwork Lucio FontanaAquiles (David), 1946 Patinated gesso
163 x 48 x 45 cm
Ben Brown Fine Arts

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Lucio Fontana, FONTANA at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
Closed
22 January–28 February 2019 Lucio Fontana FONTANA Ben Brown Fine Arts, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, By Fire, Ceramic Works at Almine Rech Gallery, New York
Closed
31 October–15 December 2018 Group Exhibition By Fire, Ceramic Works Almine Rech Gallery, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Mack: ZERO-Amicizie. Germania -  Italia. 1958 - 1967 at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Closed
21 September–3 November 2018 Group Exhibition Mack: ZERO-Amicizie. Germania - Italia. 1958 - 1967 Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See Ocula Report Armory Week Lowdown: Shows to See 2 Mar 2019 : Sharmistha Ray for Ocula

The Armory Show opens to the public on 7 March (running to 10 March 2019)—just about a week after the fair relocated a portion of its 194 exhibitors due to structural issues found in Pier 92, forcing its sister fair Volta to cancel its 2019 show so that Armory could occupy its Pier 90 venue. Despite the upheaval, New York's art week is going...

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In Related Press

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A chameleon who never lost his feeling for clay – Lucio Fontana at the Met Related Press A chameleon who never lost his feeling for clay – Lucio Fontana at the Met Apollo : 15 March 2019

Was Lucio Fontana, at heart, just an easily distracted ceramicist? So one might conclude from the current exhibition at the Met. The show reveals a chameleon figure, highly responsive to the prevailing winds of art and politics. He worked across many artistic disciplines, in contexts that should have been antithetical to one another, leaving an...

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The Politics Behind the Massacred Canvases of Lucio Fontana Related Press The Politics Behind the Massacred Canvases of Lucio Fontana Hyperallergic : 8 February 2019

Lucio Fontana could have spent the rest of his natural-born life building colossal tombs and funerary statues for his father's sculpture workshop in Argentina. Instead, he traveled the world in search of immortality.Participant and witness to the world wars that rocked early 20th-century Europe, the Argentine-Italian artist harnessed the...

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Walls with Incisions a La Fontana by Adriana Varejão Related Press Walls with Incisions a La Fontana by Adriana Varejão Elephant : 22 April 2018

Lucio Fontana's best-known works to this day are without a doubt his Concetti Spaziale, the simple, aggressive slashes into monochrome canvases that he began to make in the late 1940s. In the Argentinian-born artist's mind, he was cutting into the cosmos, bringing another dimension to the flat planes of painting. The highly recognizable slash works...

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Art Basel Hong Kong returns, bigger and bolder than ever before Related Press Art Basel Hong Kong returns, bigger and bolder than ever before Wallpaper* : 26 March 2017

Now in its fifth edition, Art Basel Hong Kong has become a firm annual fixture on the city’s cultural – and art collector’s – map. With almost 80,000 visitors and surprisingly robust sales reported on opening night, this edition featured a stronger selection of works than previous years, and noticeably less bling on show by 242 galleries from 34...

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