With more than eighty works, this exhibition represents a new approach to Lucio Fontana’s (Rosario de Santa Fe, Argentina, 1899-Varese, Italy, 1968) work. The exhibition is based on his main themes, but goes beyond reducing his artistic input and research to just the famous buchi (holes or perforations) or tagli (cuts) that he makes on canvas. The intention is to seek and analyse the guiding principle of the timeless questions present in his different styles and periods of production.
The chronological path described by the pieces collected for the exhibition show that Fontana was a visionary, because he was ahead of many artistic-philosophical debates that take place in the final decades of the century. Fontana was a man and artist of his time, he lived through two world wars and the changes that they produced in man and witnessed new technological and industrial advances as well as the discoveries of nuclear physics and experiments in space and in communication technology.
The exhibition begins with his terracotta sculpture Figuras negras (1931), which shows that Fontana’s interest is not in a formal renewal of the representation of man, but in a consideration of the primordial substance, from a figuration that is archaic. His foray into Abstract Art such as Escultura Abstracta (1934) is considered by some experts as "a premonitory phase of post-war formal abstraction and lyricism." In this way he makes the realisation of the dynamic tension between figuration and abstraction his work’s main area of research, like in Mujer con flores (1948) y Colombina (1949). Franziska Nori, exhibition curator together with Thomas Messer, says that in Fontana’s work the "dematerialisation of artwork is another example of his search for new articulation of artistic expression."
Achieving the logic of material expressionism in painting and sculpture led to his research and publication of the Manifesto Blanco. Espacialismo (1947), which states that "artists anticipate scientific gestures; scientific gestures always provoke artistic gestures." First the perforation of the canvas, later cuts in it -on monochrome surfaces and always titled Concepto espacial- are new acts, the conquest of another aesthetic, artistic and perceptive dimension, through the recognition of unlimited space.
As noted by Giovanni Joppolo -art historian and specialist in the work of Fontana- "the hole from which the cut is derived is the tautology of space and immediately leads to Fontana’s architectural concerns, but also and above all to absolute certainty that space is a mental thing." In this way fabric is no longer a support for symbols representing material objects, it becomes a surface for the projection of the spectator´s spirit.
Fundació La Caixa, Palma de Mallorca (July 22 - September 13, 1998)
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