Lucio Fontana


Born in 1899 in Rosario (Argentina), died in 1968


Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (63-FD.17), 1963

In the 1930s, Lucio Fontana, one of the first Italian abstract artists, produced a pictorial and conceptual œuvre that he regularly renewed. His experiments with ceramics produced several sets of figurative sculptures, in which vibrant, sensual colour and light reigned supreme. In his monochrome paintings, which he stabbed, ripped and generally mistreated, he sought to develop "an art founded on the unity of time and space." His habit of stabbing and slashing his canvases and the texts he wrote at the time were the beginning of Spatialism, a movement to which most of what he calls his Concetti Spaziali (Spatial Concepts) belong. In addition to two paintings, the Biennale is also presenting Ambiente Spaziale (1949), the first work acquired by the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Lyon when it opened in 1984: a black space with no directions or instructions. In Ambiente Spaziale there are several small yellow dots that have no precise justification, but are there simply to indicate the three dimensions of space, the fourth being the visitor, in the dark, alone and faced with decisions to be taken.

Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris - Musée national d’art moderne


Ambiente Spaziale, 1967

Concetto Spaziale (50-B.1), 1950

The Italian sculptor, painter, ceramicist and theorist Lucio Fontana was one of Italy’s first abstract artists, and the founder of Spatialism. Ambiente Spaziale (1949) was the first work purchased by the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon after its foundation in 1984. The piece was premiered at Galleria Del Depposito in Genoa, on October 3, 1967, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Of Fontana’s three Ambiente Spaziale, this is the only work to survive. It was produced a year before he died, and conceived as the culmination of his project, formulated in 1965, “to open up space, to create a new dimension for art, to connect with the infinite extent of the cosmos, beyond the limitations of the picture plane.” Taking the form of a black space, with no directions or instructions, the piece is revealed through small yellow points serving no purpose other than to indicate its three spatial dimensions; the fourth dimension is the visitor, alone in the darkness, confronting the decisions s/he is forced to make.

Fifteen years before his Ambiente Spaziale, Fontana perforated the canvas of his Concetto Spaziale (50-B.1) (‘Spatial concept’), producing a tightly-packed set of holes that highlight the support’s materiality, texture and thickness. “The canvas is no longer a support, but an illusion,” he wrote. Spatialism was born.

macLYON collection

Centre Pompidou, Paris – Musée national d’art moderne collection


©Fondazione Lucio Fontana

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