Lucio Fontana 

“I do not want to make a painting. I want to open up space… create a new dimension, tie in the cosmos as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture.”

Lucio Fontana

Argentine-Italian artist Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) was one of the most innovative artists of the postwar period. In works that merge painting, sculpture, and architecture, he investigated the nature of matter, energy, and space. Best known for his radical Tagli(Cuts)series (1958–68) of slashed monochrome paintings, Fontana moved through various formal periods over the course of his career, always seeking what he called “the new,” embracing technological progress and transcending categories of figuration and abstraction.

Born in Rosario, Argentina, to parents of Italian origin, Fontana studied in Italy and apprenticed for his father, who sculpted funerary monuments. He volunteered to serve in the First World War (1916–18) and enrolled at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, Milan, in 1927. In 1930, Fontana presented his first solo exhibition at the Milione Gallery, Milan, and was included in the Venice Biennale. His geometric figure Uomo nero (Black Man, 1930) is considered to be the first work of his mature period. In 1940, he returned to Argentina, where in 1946 he published the Manifiesto Blanco, proposing the integration of art and science, and initiated works under the term Concetto Spaziale(Spatial Concept). The following year, he established the first in a series of manifestos of Spatialism, advocating for a greater art that involved the dimensions of space and time. Over the next decades, he would explore this concept in series wherein he perforated and incised canvas, including Buchi (Holes, 1949–68); Pietre (Stones, 1952–56); and La Fine di Dio (The End of God, 1963–64). In 1949, Fontana created his emblematic Ambiente spaziale a luce nera (Spatial Environment in Black Light), and his ceramic sculpture was included in the exhibition Twentieth-Century Italian Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1959–60 he extensively exhibited the Tagli, and in 1961, he mounted his first solo exhibition in the United States, at Martha Jackson Gallery, New York. In 1966, he was awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale.

Fontana participated in multiple iterations of the Venice Biennale (1930, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1964, 1966, 1968) and Documenta, Kassel (1959, 1968). His first international retrospective was mounted by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1977, and his work was subsequently featured in solo exhibitions at major institutions including the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1987–88); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1988); Kunsthalle Frankfurt (1996); Hayward Gallery, London (1999); and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (2006). Retrospectives have recently been dedicated to his work at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2014) and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2019).


    • Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly
    • Dominique Lévy, New York
      September 18 - November 16, 2013
    • Audible Presence: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, Cy Twombly (2013) was the inaugural exhibition of Dominique Lévy at 909 Madison Avenue, New York. The exhibition explored the relationship between the time-based procedures employed by three of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and the auditory experiences of music, sound, and silence. In conjunction with the exhibition, Dominique Lévy presented New York City’s first public performance of Yves Klein’s Monotone-Silence Symphony, which was performed only once during the artist’s brief lifetime, on the night...

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Selected Artworks

    • Lucio Fontana
    • Concetto spaziale, Attese, 1964–65
    • Water-based paint on canvas
    • 32⁵⁄₁₆ × 25⁹⁄₁₆ inches (82 × 65 cm)
    • Lucio Fontana
    • Concetto spaziale, 1961
    • Oil and acrylic on canvas
    • 59¹⁄₁₆ × 59¹⁄₁₆ inches (150 × 150 cm)
    • Lucio Fontana
    • Concetto spaziale, 1958
    • Oil and pastel on canvas
    • 23¼ × 31⅞ inches (59 × 81 cm)
    • Lucio Fontana
    • Il guerriero, 1949
    • Glazed and painted terracotta
    • 42½ × 20½ × 17¾ inches (108 × 52.1 × 45.1 cm)

Selected Press