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LUCIO FONTANA

(1899-1868)

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Born in Rosario de Santa Fé, Argentina, in 1899, from Milanese parents, Fontana spent his childhood between the two continents, before settling in his parent’s hometown in 1927. His early works were made of terracotta, inspired by his father’s practice as a sculptor. Both figurative and abstract, these pieces ground the artist’s practice in sculpture and tri-dimensionality. Fontana was from the start approached to take part in major exhibitions such as the Milan Triennale, the Venice Biennale and the Rome Quadrienniale, as well as the Galerie Jeanne Bucher-Mayor in Paris. In 1940, he fled the war in Europe and returned to Argentina. There, in 1946, Fontana laid out the principles for his artistic practice with the very first Manifiesto Blanco, a statement of Neo-Futurist poetry. He wanted to create an art in line with its epoch, embracing science and technology, and to uncover a new dimension of the flat surface: the space beyond the canvas. Thus through slashing – one of the most primitive gestures in art history – Fontana liberated the artist from the confines of the flat canvas surface. These principles foregrounded the movement he co-founded: Spatialism. The works Fontana created thereon are invariably entitled “Concetto spaziale” (or “Spatial concept”). Having returned to Milan in 1947, he delved further into his Spatialist research, punching holes (buchi in Italian) into canvases, as an embodiment of space and a reminder of its infinite potential. In the early 1960s, Fontana fully embraced the monochrome, looking for purity and regularity in his work in order to overcome the chaos of Informal Art. He saw his works exhibited in numerous major exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, seven times between 1948 and 1968 and in a touring exhibition put together by the MoMA between 1966 and 1968. Following his death in 1968, numerous posthumous exhibitions were organised: The Centre Pompidou in Paris put on an extensive retrospective of the artist’s work in 1987, and his pieces were also presented at The Italian Metamorphosisexhibition at the Guggenheim in New York in 1994. Since then, he has become one of the world’s most sought-after artists and his works are housed in all major museum collections such as the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Tate (London) and the MoMA (New York).

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