Modern Masters Artist Profile: Lucio Fontana

Fascinated by science and technology, Lucio Fontana refused to think of science and art as two distinct entities. First known for his sculptures, it wasn’t until 1949, at the age of 48, that Fontana explored the style of 'spatial concepts' that he is most well-known for today. From that time on, Fontana began using “concetto spaziale” (spatial concepts) accompanied by a secondary, or more referential word or term. These 2-D pieces were characterized by holes, slashes, or cuts through the canvas surface.

“At a time when people were talking about ‘planes’—the surface plane, the depth plane, etc.—making a hole was a radical gesture which broke the space of the canvas as if to say: after this we are free to do what we like.” Fontana’s statement reflects his desire to extend beyond the boundaries of the canvas and into the viewer’s space. Fontana used a variety of forms and appearances in his Spatial Concepts. Some are vivid colors, some neutral, different types of cuts and holes, and ragged or smooth edges to the canvas. In short, Fontana’s style of slashes to the canvas, “introduced a dimension beyond the painting itself.”

Update: Some of the images referred to in this blog post have been removed following the close of Modern Masters at the Denver Art Museum. Please visit the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Collection search page to find the related artworks. This appeared on this post while the exhibition was open:

Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, Attese (Spatial Concept, Waiting), 1960. Oil on canvas; 19 7/8 x 28 3/4 inches. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. Gift of The Seymour H. Knox Foundation, Inc. Photograph by Tom Loonan. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.

Holly Westwood was an intern in the education department at the Denver Art Museum in 2013.

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