After the Second World War, Lucio Fontana began to tell people about his concept of Spatialism. He observed that in many other areas of life, things are changing and being accelerated through machines and technologies, but that art hasn’t changed for centuries; painters, for example, are still painting on flat canvases.
He thus thinks that artists should create energetic and dynamic art that keeps up with the times. In an attempt to create an extra dimension, he comes up with the idea of cutting his canvases, calling these works Tagli.
Spatial Concept by Lucio Fontana | How Spatialism was born
And in 1949 he developed the term spatial concept to describe his work. He cuts the flat surfaces of his canvases and integrates real rather than imagined space and depth. Instead of creating illusions with paint, he suggests infinity through cutting.
And when a critic comments that his work looks aggressive, he replies that he built, not destroyed!
In some ways, this work resembles the paint marks of some abstract expressionist work from the 1940s and 1950s. But unlike the Abstract Expressionists’ methods of “action painting,” which focus on the act of painting and the marks on the surface, Fontana describes this cut as “an infinite dimension.” Calling his work “art for the space age,” he aims to escape the conventions that have dominated art since before the Renaissance; his works are not intended to represent anything from the real world, but rather to transcend space and generate a feeling of infinity.
Spatial Concept by Lucio Fontana | His story
Born in Argentina to Italian parents, Fontana feels a strong alliance with the Futurist movement that began in Italy in 1909 and aimed to capture the dynamism and energy of the modern world in art. He began perforating the surface of his paper or canvas in the late 1940s, eliminating the difference between two and three dimensions. His first Cut he made in the late summer of 1958, using a sharp blade and a single movement, creating small or large incisions, often diagonal, sometimes in groups. He continues to experiment with this idea as a gesture that goes beyond painting. He paints some canvases in individual bright colors.
During 1959, Fontana’s holes and slits evolve into single, decisive cuts. He then backs each canvas up with a strong black gauze to give the appearance of a void behind the cut. On his first works with a sun cut, on the back he writes the word Attesa, which means and on the back of those with different cuts, he writes Attese (the plural version) instead.
Lucio Fontana at the Venice Biennale
In 1966 Fontana exhibited an entire room of White cuts at the Venice Biennale, stating that he had found a way to “give the viewer an impression of spatial calm, of cosmic rigour, of serenity in the infinite” .