Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury
Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale
Lucio Fontana. Concetto spaziale--Teatrino, 1965. Courtesy of Dorotheum.

Lucio Fontana. Concetto spaziale–Teatrino, 1965. Courtesy of Dorotheum.

Argentine by birth and Italian by choice, Lucio Fontana made the crossing of the Atlantic a habitual occurrence, sometimes out of necessity (on the occasion of the WWII) and others out of conviction. His reinstatements in Argentina focused on his own development as an artist and transmitter of ideas. In 1924, he established his own sculpture studio in Buenos Aires where he explored the boundaries between painting and sculpture and began developing his theories on abstraction. He became a member of the European Abstraction-Création group in 1934 and took part in several of the group’s exhibitions.

His return to Argentina in the 1940s propelled him to the forefront of the South-American avant-garde. He, along with the artists Jorge Romero Brest and Jorge Larco, founded the Academia Altamira in 1946 and authored the Manifesto Blanco (Buenos Aires, 1946), which popularized the artists’ ideas on abstraction.  Fontana developed these ideas further with a series of five manifestos he produced from 1947 to 1952 and in which he elaborated on the new concept of Spazialismo (Spatialism), one that finalized for him his break from figurative art but also from the most classical style of abstraction, which he found static. Contrary to the Western approach to art that depends on flatness, Fontana promulgated the idea of incorporating the fourth dimension in artistic works, and therefore implied that the artist needs to take into account time in order to push the boundaries of the physical dimensions of the object.

It was in the late 1940s and when he was back in Italy that Fontana worked on the concept of Spazialismo, ultimately arguing that physical matter needs to be transformed into energy in order to invade space in a dynamic form. These principles are best exemplified in his series “Concetto spaziale” (spatial concept) in which he experiments with ‘holes’ and ‘slashes’, namely violent interventions onto matter that assaulted the surface of the canvas with sharp cuts.

One of these works, Concetto spaziale—Teatrino,  (1965, blue waterpaint on wood, and dark blue, 83 x 55 mm) is coming up for auction at Palais Dorotheum, the famed Viennese auction house (est. 1707). Fontana’s piece is estimated to sell for a price of 200,000 to 300,000 Euros ($283,000- 424,000) on May 24, 2012.

© Thomaï Serdari