Lucio Fontana
Argentina, 1899
Italy, 1968
Lucio Fontana (Rosario, Argentina, 1899 - Comabbio, Italy, 1968) is one of the most important and personal abstract painters of the 20th century. As a soldier in World War I, he was injured and subsequently received a medal for his service. His first exhibition took place in 1930 at the celebrated Il Milione gallery in Milan. During this time, he cultivated relationships with both abstract artists and Expressionists, already pointing to the dichotomy that would eventually come to define his career. After living in both Argentina and Italy, he returned to Buenos Aires in the forties, where he founded the Academia Altamira and wrote his well-known Manifiesto blanco (White Manifesto, 1946), which laid the theoretical foundation for Spatialism or the Movimento Spaziale. The search for the pure three-dimensional values of painting defined this artistic current, and in doing so it moved away from monumental plasticity. In the spirit and manner of the classic avant-garde, Spatialism embarked on an immense pedagogical effort throughout the forties, publishing up to four different manifestos that outlined the movement’s main creative paradigms. In 1958 Fontana began working on what would become his most recognisable pieces, the famous tagli nella tela (cuts in the canvas) in which he slashed the canvas with a straight razor or box cutter to reveal the back of the painting, its structural framework and depth. These monochromatic pieces, defined by both elegance and a radical forcefulness, have eclipsed much of the artist’s other important work. This includes his sculptures, many of them conceived for outdoor contemplation, which return to a certain organic quality and explore the way abstract forms pose questions to the open spaces found in nature. During his final years, Fontana focused on a series of so-called Teatrini or small theatres that mark his return to a two-dimensional idiom. In contrast to the cut paintings, the artist placed a moveable frame—usually made from a differently coloured material—on top of the canvas, which resembles a tiny stage on which a richly lyrical shadow play of silhouettes unfolds.
Valentín Roma