Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Lucio Fontana
Italian, born Argentina, 1899–1968
Spatial Conception
Watercolor on canvas
66 x 55 cm
Gift of Barbara Levinson, New York, to American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: B95.0606
Early in his career, Fontana, a sculptor’s son, had concentrated solely on sculpture. In 1948, he began puncturing and, later, slicing canvases, creating what he called Concetti spaziali (Spatial Conceptions). Freeing the canvas from its traditional, two-dimensional status, he formulated a new pictorial language, no longer attempting to create an illusion of space but actually creating space. The cuts (tagli), first executed in 1958, exemplify Fontana’s mature work. The surface is pure and monochromatic, but that purity is ruptured by the cuts that allow the void behind the canvas to penetrate the final work. As with the calligraphic strokes of East Asian ink paintings, the precise incisions were premeditated and irreversible. When viewing Fontana’s works, our mind reconstructs the strokes of the knife – a process of visualization that engenders a new aesthetic through destruction. As the artist himself once said, “As a painter working on one of my prepared canvases, I don’t want to make a picture, I want to open up space, to create a new dimension for art” (quoted in Jan van der Marck and Enrico Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, vol. 1 [Brussels, 1974], p. 7).

Kamien-Kazhdan, Adina (ed.), Modernism in Dialogue: 20th-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Israel Museum, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 2010

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: Ms. Joan Lessing, New York and Jerusalem