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Lucio Fontana

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Name: Lucio

Surname: Fontana

Lives & Works:

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Date of Birth:

Date of Death: 1968



Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Born in Argentina in 1899, Fontana's journey from sculpture to painting led to the creation of his iconic "Spatial Concept" series. He redefined the boundaries of art through his innovative exploration of space and dimensionality. 

His pioneering spirit and groundbreaking contributions to the art movement of Spatialism have left an indelible mark on the art world.

Lucio Fontana BIOGRAPHY

Lucio Frontana
Image Credit: Ben Brown Fine Arts

Early Life

Lucio Fontana was born to Italian immigrant parents in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. He inherited his artistic lineage from his father, the sculptor Luigi Fontana. 

Spending his early years in Argentina, he embarked on a journey to Italy in 1905, where he collaborated with his father until 1922. During this period, he honed his skills as a sculptor. 

His involvement with the Argentine artists' group Nexus in 1926 marked his early foray into the art scene, setting the stage for his future groundbreaking contributions.

What is Lucio Fontana known for?

Lucio Frontana
Image Credit: MoMA

Judd was famous as an art critic and painter early in his career. However, he became dissatisfied with the constraints of the two-dimensional picture plane. Seeking a purer form of artistic expression, Judd transitioned to creating freestanding sculptural objects in the early 1960s. 

His first sculptures were simple, box-like forms of industrial materials like plywood, aluminum, and steel. These sleek, repetitive structures explored ideas of volume, space, and interval in an intentionally minimal fashion.

Career highlights

Lucio Frontana
Image Credit: Artform

Artist Formation

After returning to Italy in 1927, Fontana studied under sculptor Adolfo Wildt at the Accademia di Brera from 1928 to 1930. He presented his debut exhibition in 1930 at the Milan art gallery Il Milione, kickstarting a decade of exploration. 

He traversed Italy and France, collaborating with abstract and expressionist artists and immersing himself in the creative milieu.

Exploring Art Movements

  • Association with Abstraction-Création (1935): In 1935, Fontana's artistic journey took a new direction as he joined the association Abstraction-Création in Paris. This step marked the beginning of his exploration into various artistic forms and expressions.

  • Expressionist Sculptures (1935-1949): Fontana's creative energy led him to experiment with expressionist sculptures, working extensively with ceramic and bronze materials until 1949. This period laid the foundation for his innovative approach to sculptural art.

  • Corrente Group Membership (1939): In 1939, Fontana became a part of the Milan-based Corrente group of expressionist artists. This collective provided him with a platform to engage with like-minded artists and further expand his artistic horizons.

  • Return to Argentina and Altamira Academy (1940): The year 1940 saw Fontana returning to Argentina. He established the Altamira Academy in Buenos Aires, a significant milestone in his career. 

This marked the beginning of his efforts to contribute to artistic education and experimentation.

  • "White Manifesto" and Spazialismo (1946): In 1946, Fontana's "White Manifesto" came into play, laying the conceptual groundwork for his Spazialismo movement. This manifesto emphasized the fusion of matter, color, and motion in art, showcasing Fontana's visionary approach.

  • Endurance Through World War II (1940s): Fontana faced the challenges of World War II, a period that tested his resilience. The bombings in Milan led to the loss of his studio and works, a setback that he would overcome with his enduring creativity.

Fontana's journey through various art movements reflects his willingness to embrace change and innovation, setting the stage for his groundbreaking contributions to the art world.

Exploring Fontana's Artistic Impact

In the 1960s, Fontana continued to push artistic boundaries. He reinvented his signature cuts and punctures, covering canvases with layers of thick oil paint and creating fissures on their surface. 

His international influence grew as he exhibited in Venice and New York, creating metal works that reflected the dynamism of city architecture.

  • Solo Exhibition Debut (1931): Fontana's artistic journey took a significant step with his first solo exhibitions at the Galleria del Milione, Milan, in 1931. This marked the beginning of his presence on the art scene.

  • U.S. Showcase (1961): Michel Tapié organized Fontana's first U.S. exhibition at the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, featuring the Venice series. This event introduced his innovative approach to American audiences.

  • American Museum Debut (1966): Fontana's first solo exhibition at an American museum took place at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, in 1966. This milestone further solidified his presence in the international art scene.

  • Venice Biennale and Global Exhibitions: Fontana's works were a regular feature at the Venice Biennale since 1930, representing Argentina multiple times. He participated in numerous exhibitions globally, including retrospectives at prestigious institutions like the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Hayward Gallery, Centre Pompidou, and more.

  • Award-Winning Recognition (1966): Fontana's contributions to painting were acknowledged with the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale of 1966, a testament to his groundbreaking work.

  • Met Breuer Retrospective (2019): A significant American retrospective of Fontana's art took place in 2019 at the Met Breuer, marking a major showcase of his works since his passing.

What Inspired Lucio Fontana in His Work?

Lucio Fontana's work was inspired by the convergence of matter, color, and motion, as seen in his Spazialismo movement. Fontana embarked on a revolutionary artistic journey in the late 1940s and early 1950s. 

He introduced his Spatial Concept series, a groundbreaking exploration that would reshape the art landscape.

Lucio Fontana List of Work

Lucio Frontana
Image Credit: MoMA

Revolutionizing Art with Spatial Concepts

  • "Buchi" and "Tagli" on Canvases: Fontana's series featured the iconic "Buchi" (holes) and "Tagli" (slashes) on monochrome canvases. These deliberate interventions shattered the conventional boundaries of two-dimensional art, ushering in a new era of artistic expression.

  • Breakthrough with "Ambiente spaziale a luce nera" (1949): A pivotal moment arrived in 1949 when Fontana presented his breakthrough creation, the "Ambiente spaziale a luce nera" (Spatial environment with black light). 

This installation featured a suspended, illuminated shape, offering a glimpse into his exploration of spatial dimensions.

  • Foreshadowing Spatial Experimentation: The "Ambiente spaziale a luce nera" was a precursor to Fontana's deep fascination with spatial experimentation. 

This piece marked the beginning of his journey into creating immersive environments that engaged viewers in a multi-dimensional experience.

Fontana's creations boldly challenged the traditional confines of painting. By incorporating holes and slashes, he shattered the flatness of the canvas and invited audiences to contemplate the interplay of light, shadow, and form.

He often lined the reverse of his artworks with black gauze, creating an illusion of depth and mystery behind the cuts. This technique added a layer of complexity to his pieces, engaging viewers on multiple levels.

Fontana's exploration of spatial concepts was a turning point in art history, propelling him into the forefront of innovation and paving the way for future generations of artists to challenge norms and boundaries.

Art in Collections and the Market

  • Global Presence in Museums: Fontana's art finds a home in over a hundred museums worldwide, including notable pieces from the Pietre series at institutions like Stedelijk Museum, Centre Pompidou, and the Museum of Modern Art.

  • Catalogue Raisonné: Scholars like Enrico Crispolti and Luca Massimo Barbero have contributed to extensive catalogues raisonnés of Fontana's work, documenting his legacy in both paintings and works on paper.

  • Auction Records: Fontana's art has garnered significant attention in the art market. Pieces like "Teresita" and "Concetto Spaziale, Attese" have set records, with the latter fetching £8.4 million at Sotheby's London in 2015.

  • Oval Canvases' Popularity: Fontana's iconic oval canvases have also commanded attention at auctions. Works like "Concetto spaziale, la fine di dio" were sold for impressive sums, highlighting the enduring appeal of his artistic vision.

  • Record-Breaking Sale (2015): In November 2015, Christie's achieved an auction record with Fontana's "Concetto spaziale, la fine di dio," which sold for an astounding $29 million, emphasizing his continuing influence and value in the art market.

Famous Artwork by Lucio Fontana


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Dealers & Galleries

What could a NFT Story of Lucio Fontana sound like?

An NFT Story of Lucio Fontana involves an interactive digital journey through his innovative art, exploring the evolution of his spatial concepts and his influence on reshaping artistic expression.

A potential NFT collection could reflect Fontana's pioneering spirit, merging traditional art with cutting-edge technology to create immersive digital experiences that mirror his exploration of space and dimension.

What could a NFT collection of Lucio Fontana look like?

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More about Lucio Fontana

Delve deeper into the life, philosophy, and artistic achievements of Lucio Fontana by visiting Lucio Fontana Foundation’s official website.

The Fontana Foundation stands as a testament to Lucio Fontana's enduring legacy. Established to honor his groundbreaking contributions to art, the foundation works to preserve, promote, and celebrate his artistic vision.

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