Modern & Samtida konst + Design
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To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 10 – 12 May 2023
Lot 446 Lucio Fontana (Italy 1899‑1968). ”Concetto Spaziale, Natura”. One signed fontana, the other l. fontana, both numbered 285/500 on the underside. Polished brass, Height 26 cm.
Fondeur Berrocal, 1967.
1.000.000 – 1.500.000 SEK
€ 89.000 – 133.000
Stockholms Auktionsverk, 22 November 1999, lot 769.
A Swedish private collection, acquired at the above sale.
Harry Ruhé and Camillo Rigo, Lucio Fontana. Graphics, Multiples and more…, 2006, B-1 and B-2, another pair illustrated p. 139.
”My discovery was the hole and that’s it.
I am happy to go to the grave after such a discovery.”
– Lucio Fontana
The words above were Lucio Fontana’s in an interview in the year of 1968 (quoted in S. Whitfield, Lucio Fontana, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, 1999, p. 12). The year before he produced the spherical ”Concetto Spaziale – Natura” sculptures in a limited edition of 500 each, cast by Berrocal in Verona, Italy. The works were part of the Natura series that had emerged in the end of the 1950s in which Fontana created sculptures in terracotta and bronze that were influenced by cosmic imagination and the ideas of space travel. The perfectly wrought spheres feature a richly smooth golden patina that is imbued with a raw tactility. Originally created in pairs, one of the spheres with a cut and the other one with two holes, allows us to glance into the inner core of the overwhelmingly elegant spheres. “He began to be taken with the idea of a voyage into the mysteries of nature, and this was to result in the stupendous series ‘Nature’, made with spheroid plastic elements, into which the impetuous gesture cuts or penetrates, thus creating most suggestive effects that recall craters, volcanoes or telluric upheavals”. (G. Ballo cited in Lucio Fontana, Guido Ballo, Praeger Publishers, 1971, p. 158).
Lucio Fontana redefined and revolutionized the art world. He counts among the most influential post-war artists, active during a time of change when science, technology, quantum physics and space travel made a great impact on the every day life and art itself. Giant leaps in the evolution that awoke and intrigued Fontana’s curiosity to create an art that would reflect the spirit of its own time. Born in Argentina at the turn of the century, Fontana eventually became a native Italian. In 1948 he published his first manifesto, Manifesto Blanco, in which he presented his ideas to create a new medium, another dimension that would include architecture, painting and sculpture. This was the seedbed to his Spazialismo, where the aim was to break through the traditional two-dimensional picture plane. He searched for a new dimension and transcended the surface of the canvas to a new aim, to open up into another space and reveal a dark, unknown and unexplored opening beyond. A somewhat simple, however magnificent, action – to open up a space in which the viewer was invited to embrace the darkness of infinity: ”I do not want to make a painting; I want to open up space, create a new dimension, tie in the cosmos, as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture”. (Lucio Fontana quoted in the exhibition catalogue, Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Lucio Fontana, 1966).
Initially trained as a sculptor, Fontana rejected the traditional uses of the artistic materials and their purpose. He searched for a new and deeper meaning to reflect the new possibilities that were offered by the changes of time, progress and the principles of science. He wanted to create art that was in a greater harmony with the needs of the new human spirit, works that surpass the traditional definitions of painting and sculpture, of abstract and realism. When inventing his dramatically executed bucchi (holes) that later on was followed by the tagli (cuts), he broke through all of the boundaries associated with the traditional art making, making this the quintessence of the artistry of Lucio Fontana. ”My cuts are above all a philosophical statement, an act of faith in the infinite, an affirmation of spirituality. When I sit down to contemplate one of my cuts, I sense all at once an enlargement of the spirit, I feel like a man freed from the shackles of matter, man at once with the immensity of the present and of the future.” (Lucio Fontana quoted in the exhibition catalogue, Guggenheim Museum, New York 2006, p. 23). Deeply mystifying, intensely complex and profoundly confident Fontana has made a great impact as one of the greatest pioneers of his time. Being a true source of inspiration for the following generations of artists to come, Fontana forged a legacy that can be seen as a linking bridge between the past, present and future. But also of what we yet not know is to come.
As cited by Damien Hirst in July 2008 in S. Casoli, E. Geuna, Fontana Luce e colore, Milan 2008, exhibition catalogue, p. 90: ”… his struggle with content and context, his aggression and profanations, can be considered, on the one hand, destructive childish acts and on the other an ode to life, cosmic explosions or unusual yet wonderful dances. With his trajectories in space and over time, the mapping of universal distances, the strong contradictions between love and hate, right and wrong, what is admissible and what is not, Fontana speaks to the child within us, reminding us that however complicated our life is, the beauty that erupts where we least expect it is what brings us salvation, and this is important because as Brancusi said ’when you are no longer children you are already dead’.” ■