Lucio Fontana’s retrospective at the Musée d’art Moderne is approaching, and Artsper thought the moment was right to check the archives and see a few things about the artist’s evolution. Andiamo.
c1930, Due personnagi
In 1930, Lucio Fontana was not yet a giant of contemporary art. In 1927, after a long stay in Argentina, he came back to Italy, where he studied scultpture with Adolfo Wildt. His first exhibition is organised by the Milan gallery Il Milione. This work is part of the gallery archives. It is a figurative drawing inspired by the heavy figures of his master sculptor. His stroke makes us think of Picasso or Matisse. We won’t spend too much time analyzing this work.
Fontana will not take too long before abandoning this style and becoming the artist who cuts his canvases. He is obsessed with space, this ethereal element which will give its name to the movement that he initiated. Fontana is a spatialist. The word is out. In 1949, Fontana does not produce his last work, but the one that permanently marked the rest of his career. This is the first “ambiente spaziale”.
“Neither painting, nor sculpture, a free and immediate suggestion than an environment created by the artist transmits to the viewer” – Fontana.
1949 will bring Fontana’s liberation of any plastic form. In a dark space, a 3D abstract form, painted in neon laquer, is illuminated by a black light. The work is only exposed for a few days. This short period is sufficient for the break to become irreversible. Ambiente is the manifestation of the principle of dematerialization in art, and inaugurated the transition of sculpture toward an artform that would later be called environmental. To put it simply, Fontana’s strenght, in 1949, is that of being able to take our gaze beyond the canvas, in all directions, while keeping us wrapped by an immateriality that became palpable, made visible by the black and bright halo. Capisce?