Lucio Fontana - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 18, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “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
    One of the most influential artists to have worked out of Italy in the last century, the Argentine-born Lucio Fontana is remembered for his slashed canvases, hole-punched paintings, and for founding Spazialismo - the Spatialist art movement - in 1947.


    Fontana first outlined the ideas behind Spazialismo in the Manifiesto Blanco (White Manifesto) of 1946, calling for “a greater art, which will be consistent with the demands of the new spirit.” Further manifestos followed, including the Primo manifesto dello spazialismo (First Manifesto of Spatialism) in 1947, which continued to refine Fontana’s concept of a new and innovative art for the post-war age. Concurrently, the artist began a series referred to as Concetti spaziali (Spatial Concepts), devised from the generic title Fontana attributed to his individual works: Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept). These works sought to create an actual dimension of space in art and culminated in Fontana’s renowned monochromatic works pierced with buchi (holes) or tagli (cuts).


    179617_FIG 1: Beniamino Joppolo, Milena Milani and Lucio Fontana at the Arte Spaziale Exhibition at Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, 1952. Image: Farabola / Bridgeman Images
    Beniamino Joppolo, Milena Milani and Lucio Fontana at the Arte Spaziale Exhibition at Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, 1952. Image: Farabola / Bridgeman Images

    Concetti Spaziali di Lucio Fontana was the first editioned portfolio produced by Fontana. Published in 1951 with the complete set consisting of seven lithographs, the designs for these prints were originally conceived as individual gouache works dating from 1949 and 1950, six of which reside in the collection of the Archive Lucio Fontana. Forming part of Fontana’s Concetti spaziali series, these prints are early iterations of the artist’s concern with portraying space. Fontana did not begin slashing his work until the late 1950s, and first pierced holes in his canvases and prints in 1948 and 1955 respectively. This printed portfolio marks the earlier stages of Fontana’s experimentation with the depiction of space through printed media, where he relied on the creation of geometric illusions rather than incision-making to convey new dimensions. Each lithograph in Concetti Spaziali di Lucio Fontana utilises the contrast between light and dark colours to create the impression that geometric shapes are receding or protruding from the picture plane. The shapes appear to vibrate and oscillate, while the receding elements create the illusion of endless voids. Through these creative choices, Fontana simultaneously imbues the works with movement, but also uses negative space to allude to the further dimensions he sought to capture, and which he would continue to develop in subsequent pieces by perforating the surface of his works.


    Fontana’s fascination with the void was shared by fellow post-war artists, exemplified in the 2013 exhibition at the MCA Chicago titled Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949–1962. Including works by Fontana alongside paintings by Alberto Burri, Yves Klein and many others, the exhibition attributed Fontana and his contemporaries’ desire for a new type of art for the post-war age to the physical and psychological destruction wrought by World War II and the existential crisis resulting from the dropping of the atomic bomb. While these calls for a new type of art materialised in varied styles and through several different artistic movements, the exhibition’s narrative cements Fontana’s status as a pioneer and innovator on the post-war global art scene.

    • Provenance

      Edizioni d’Arte Moneta, Milan
      Galerie Jacques Benador, Geneva (purchased directly from the publisher)
      Acquired from the above by descent

    • Literature

      Harry Ruhé and Camillo Rigo L-1:L-6 (lacking L-7)

Property from a Private Swiss Collection


Concetti Spaziali di Lucio Fontana (Spatial Concepts by Lucio Fontana) (R. & R. L-1:L-6)

Six lithographs in colours with metallic inks, from the set of 7 (lacking L-7), on wove paper, with full margins, with title page, colophon and texts, the sheets loose (as issued) all contained in the original printed card portfolio.
all I. various, largest approx. 42.5 x 32 cm (16 3/4 x 12 5/8 in.)
all S. 49.7 x 33.9 cm (19 5/8 x 13 3/8 in.)
portfolio 50.4 x 35.2 x 1.2 cm (19 7/8 x 13 7/8 x 1/2 in.)

All signed, titled and dated in pencil (plates L-3 and L-4 upside down), stamp-signed '40' on the colophon, from the edition of 100 (there were also 10 artist's proofs), published by Edizioni d'Arte Moneta, Milan, all unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 ‡♠

Sold for £20,160

Contact Specialist

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
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T +44 207 318 4079
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Robert Kennan
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T +44 207 318 4075
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Anne Schneider-Wilson
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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 18 - 19 January 2023