All his creative life, Italian avant-garde artist Lucio Fontana was constantly in search of new forms of abstraction. He was always interested in the relation between surface, spatial concepts and material. Virtually no other 20th-century artist brought about such fundamental change in painting and sculpture as he did. 

Born in Argentina, son of an Italian sculptor, Fontana studied at the  Accademia di Brera, Milan, and from the mid-1930s he worked on polychrome sculptures and mosaics, attempting to expand abstract art into the spatial dimension. Having moved to Buenos Aires in 1940, due to the war, he moved back to Milan in 1947. Here his spatial experiments culminated in the Concetti Spaziali series, making Fontana one of the most revolutionary post-war artists. His Spatial Concepts are pierced, perforated and slashed monochrome canvases in strong colours such as red, blue, yellow or pink. The holes (buchi) and slashes (tagli) are often underlaid with black fabric in order to draw the painting more clearly into the spatial depths, thus lending additional emphasis to the cosmic and spiritual significance of his art, which he regarded as a counterpart to the science and architecture of his time. He always treated the wounds inflicted on the canvas with colour, sometimes emphasising them by means of back-lighting.

Fontana's slashed, perforated monochromes have long become classics of 20th-century art, and much sought-after collectors' items.

1899 born in Rosario di Santa Fé, Argentina

 

1905 family moved to Milan

 

from 1914 attended the Carlo Cattaneo Technical Institute

 

1915 – 1918 war service

 

1918 graduated in engineering

 

1922 moved back to Argentina, where he worked in his father's sculpture studio

 

1924 opened his own sculpture studio

 

1928 – 1930 studied sculpture at the Accademia di Brera, Milan

 

from 1931 first figurative sculptures, terra-cotta reliefs and painted plaster plaques, approaching abstraction

 

1934 joined the Paris 'Abstraction-Création' group of artists, and set up their Milan section

 

1935  publication of their manifesto on abstract art Fontana's first solo exhibition in the Galleria del Milione, Milan

 

From 1939 lived in Argentina

 

1946 co-founded the private Altamira Academy in Buenos Aires

 

1948 first Spatialist Manifesto and foundation of the group 'Movimento spaziale'

 

1949 first Ambiente spaziale and first Buchi

 

1950s Le Pietre series

 

1958 first slashed canvases Concetto spaziale

 

Early 1960s combination of different pictorial devices and first large spherical bronze objects

 

1968 died in Varese

1929 Lucio Fontana, Accademia di Brera, Milan

 

1942 Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes, Rosario di Santa Fe

 

1961 Fontana. Keramik, Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf

 

1969 Hommage à Fontana, Kunst- und Museumsverein, Wuppertal

 

1972 Lucio Fontana, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels

 

1976 Lucio Fontana. Concetti Spaziali, Kunsthaus Zurich

 

1977 Lucio Fontana 1899 - 1968. A Retrospective, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

 

1988/1989 Homage to Lucio Fontana, Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, Venice

 

1996/1997 Lucio Fontana. Retrospektive, Schirn Kunsthalle

 

1999 Triennale di Milano, Milan

 

2006 Lucio Fontana. Venice / New York, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice &

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

 

2010 Lucio Fontana, Neue Galerie, Berlin

 

2014 Lucio Fontana. Rétrospective, Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

 

2014/2015 Yves Klein / Lucio Fontana. Milano Parigi 1957 – 1962, Museo del Novecento, Milan

 

2017 Lucio Fontana. En las colecciones publicas argentinas, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires

Lucio Fontana. Ambienti / Enviroments, Pirelli Hangar Biocca, Milan