Lucio Fontana, a study about “concetto spaziale”

February 22, 2018

The first work we have chosen for you comes from Fondazione Cirulli’s extensive drawings collection.
Why start with a drawing? The immediacy of the gesture traced with a pencil is perhaps the best medium to express the creative process of the artist. Here is a study drawing for one of Lucio Fontana “spatial concepts”, an ink on paper from 1951. The artwork, titled and signed by the artist in the bottom right corner, was part of a project for the Palazzo della Triennale in Milano; it illustrates a possible suspended neon light that was meant to be hung above the entrance staircase of the building in occasion of the 9th Milan Triennial expo.
Designed on commission for the architects Luciano Baldessari and Marcello Grisotti, this fixture was a network of hand-curved crystal tubes donning a white neon light and suspended by a system of steel cables, here shown only faintly. The overall effect of the object offers a number of intersecting, luminous curves of varying dimensions, which creates a spatial environment where the borders between painting, sculpture, and architecture becomes progressively irrelevant.
In the course of his artistic career, Fontana experimented with the famous “cuts” on the canvas, a revolutionary gesture that expressed his desire to overcome every academic distance between artistic forms, and to suggest new possibilities and perspectives, both aesthetic and semantic. At the same time, Fontana also contributed to the realization of built environments in which he experimented with various forms of light, an experience that allowed him to synthesize to the highest possible degree the union among artistic disciplines he constantly advocated for.
Fontana’s catalogue raisonné lists four authorized reconstructions of this particular neon artwork; one belongs to the Fondazione Fontana; the second was crafted under the guidance of Luciano Baldessari and Zita Mosca, in occasion of the 1972 Fontana restrospective exhibition at Milan’s Palazzo Reale. It has since fallen into disrepair, and has been substituted by the one currently seen at the Museo del Novecento. A third neon light was crafted in 1977 for an exhibition of 1950s Italian design at the Centro kappa di Naviglio; after the exhibition it was preserved by CIMAC, but was eventually destroyed in 1992. The fourth one, created in occasion of a 1984 retrospective exhibition in Bielefeld, has been donated by Teresita Rasini, Fontana’s vidow, to the Fundaciò La Caixa in Barcelona. The Fondazione Massimo and Sonia Cirulli preserves this extremely rare preparatory drawing in its archive.

Vittoria Cirulli