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  • Provenance

    Marlborough Galleria d’Art, Roma
    Galerie Stutz, Pulver & Co., Vaduz
    Collection Andy Warhol, New York
    Private Collection, Milan

  • Exhibited

    Minneapolis, Walker Art Centre, Lucio Fontana: The Spatial Concept of Art, 6 January– 13 February 1966
    Austin, University of Texas Museum, Lucio Fontana, 27 February–27 March 1966, Buenos Aires, Centro de Artes Visuales del Instituto Torcuato di Tella, Lucio Fontana, 26 July–18 August 1966

  • Literature

    Lucio Fontana: The Spatial Concept of Art, exh. cat., Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, 1966
    Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., Centro de Artes Visuales del Istituto Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, 1966
    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana catalogue raisonné, vol. I, Brussels, 1974, p. 90 no. 60 T1 (illustrated)
    E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana catalogo generale, vol. I, Milan, 1986, p. 311 no. 60 T1 (illustrated)
    E. Crispolti, Catalogo ragionato di sculture, dipinti, ambientazioni, Milan, 2006. no. 60 T1. p. 482

  • Catalogue Essay

    “With an artist as self-conscious as Andy Warhol, the acquisition of a work of art counted almost as much as the making of one. It was a deliberate gesture, and not one made for the sake of posterity; it symbolized both an homage and a kind of apprenticeship to his fellow painters.” HENRY GELDZAHLER curator and art historian, on Warhol’s ownership of this lot.

    Concetto Spaziale, Attese, executed in 1960, is an important work in the oeuvre of Lucio Fontana that has been an undeniable highlight in Andy Warhol’s collection until his death in 1987. It is an outstanding example of the work to come out of the Spazialismo (Spatialism) movement, founded by the artist in 1947. Six carefully remeditated cuts run across the thinly painted monochromic canvas, emphasising the physicality of this work. It is charged with energy of the physical act of the artist slashing the surface with the knife. This physical act or gesture became the central idea of Spatialism, to the extent that it figured in the movement’s ‘First Spatial manifesto’: “it doesn’t matter to us if a gesture, once accomplished, lives for a second or a millennium, for we are convinced that, having accomplished it, it is eternal” (in E. Crispolti and R. Siligato, eds., Lucio Fontana, Milan, 1998, p. 118). Through the use of gesture, Fontana was in fact one of the first artists to perceive art as a performance. In the ‘Technical Manifesto of Spatialism’, Fontana elaborates on Spatialism’s ambitions: “Painted canvas no longer makes sense… What is needed… is a change in both essence and form. It is necessary to go beyond the painting, sculpture and poetry… In the praise of this transformation in the nature of man, we abandon the use of known forms of art and move towards the development of an art upon the unity of space and time” (in M. Gooding, Abstract Art, London, 2001, p. 88).

    This constituted a significant challenge to traditional Western painting. Fontana transformed painting from its conventional flat surface to it being a three-dimensional object. To emphasise this step, Fontana, from 1949 on, used a generic title for his works – Concetti spaziali (Spatial Concepts) – which suggests the experience of infinite space not limited by perception. The present lot is an important example of a sub-category of the Concetti spaziali, alongside Buchi (holes) and Pietre (stones), called Tagli (slashes), which the artist began making in the mid-1950s.

    The six slashes in the canvas open up the dark space behind the object suggesting metaphysical, spiritual references. As exemplified in the present lot, Fontana usually uses off-white, pale surfaces, against which the cuts stand out clearly and draw the viewer’s gaze into the unknown space beyond. The Tagli have been the subject of many interpretations but are often considered to relate to violence or to carry a sexual charge, which, in the case of the present lot with its pristine surface violated so dramatically, is perhaps all the more possible. As the artist himself points out, “the Spatial Artist no longer imposes a figurative theme on the viewer, but puts him in the position of creating it himself, through his own imagination and the images that he receives” (in F. Pasini, ‘It is not a Lasso, an Arabesque, Nor a Piece of Spaghetti’, Tate Etc., issue 14, Autumn 2008).

    Fontana opened up new territories for exploration for the next generation of conceptual artists. His significance in art history is also demonstrated by the fact that the present lot has been in the personal collection of Andy Warhol, another of the great pioneering artists of the twentieth century.

17

Concetto spaziale, Attese

1960
Waterpaint on canvas.
93 x 138 cm (36 5/8 x 54 3/8 in).
Signed, titled, inscribed and with the artist’s fingerprint ‘l. fontana concetto spaziale ATTESE 1+1-SSAO’ on the reverse.

Estimate
£1,000,000 - 1,500,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £1,049,250

Contemporary Art Evening

16 February 2012
London