Lucio Fontana | Concetto Spaciale 1963

Lucio Fontana | Concetto Spaciale 1963

S+ Stimulant: Spatialism


‘I made a hole in canvas, which was the basis of all the arts, and I created an infinite dimension … The idea is really right there, it is a new dimension corresponding to the cosmos.  Everyone thought I wanted to destroy but that’s not true, I created, not destroyed.‘– Lucio Fontana
Lucio Fontana was an Italian painter, sculptor and theorist of Argentine birth. He was mostly known as the founder of Spatialism- a movement which intended to synthesize colour, sound, space, movement, and time into a new type of art. Its Manifesto Blanco (White Manifesto) claimed that ‘future scientific and technological innovations would transform the material bases of art and that space-time would be embraced.’ It was a rallying cry for activities that anticipated Happenings, Fluxus, and political street theater by almost twenty years. The manifesto also gave the subconscious an equality with reason in the creative arts.
In the late 1940s, Lucio Fontana began a series of artistic works where he punctured canvases in order to blur the reality between two and three dimensionality. Fontana’s most famous works were one or several slashes in unpainted canvases.

Lucio Fontana at work

Lucio Fontana at work

While Fontana began his artistic career as an abstract neo-expressionist, he later became interested in the relationship between art and physical space. He also decided that contemporary art should be more inclusive of techniques made possible by scientific progress. He began to look at the model of traditional Western art differently, proposing to drastically disturb the conventional relationship between viewer and canvas.

The punctures which Fontana created in his canvases not only create an air of three-dimensionality but also provide a rare view into the dark innards of the canvas – strong black, void-like, almost perverse and unsettling. Fontana claimed that his work is a way of ‘giving the spectator an impression of spatial calm, of cosmic rigour, of serenity in infinity.’

Fontana’s work – which went on to influence movements such as environment art, performance art, and land art – evokes a melange of physical and emotional pain, with the canvas slits resembling scars or ripped skin.  In 1968 Fontana told an interviewer that, ‘my discovery was the hole and that’s it. I am happy to go to the grave after such a discovery’.


S+ Suggestion: If you’re in Paris there is an exhibition of Lucio Fontana’s work currently on at Musée D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.


[*sources: wikipedia, Tate]

Published: May 20th, 2014

Previous in this series:

S+ Stimulant: Dreamtime

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