Lucio Fontana

Date/place of birth

February 19, 1899, Rosario, Argentina

Day/place of death

September 7, 1968, Varese, Italy

Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale Attese
Lucio Fontana - Concetto Spaziale Attese

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Lucio Fontana biography

His slash paintings made the Italian avantgarde artist Lucio Fontana world famous. However, the actual oeuvre of this versatile painter and sculptor is far more comprehensive, and the mere reduction to a small extract does not do justice to his visionary work. 

Lucio Fontana – Engineer and sculptor, student of Adolf Wildt

Lucio Fontana was born in Argentina on 19 February 1899. His parents originated from Italy and returned to their homeland in 1905. He studied in Milan at the technical college and was awarded a diploma in engineering in 1918 but in 1922, his path led once again to Argentina where he worked in his father’s sculpture workshop and participated in an exhibition of the Argentine artist group “Nexus”. Lucio Fontana quickly perceived the visual arts as his true vocation and finally, back in Italy, he attended the Milan Accademia di Brera. There he was taught by Adolfo Wildt, whom the critics praise as an important modern sculptor, even though his work is hardly known to the general public. In his early years, Fontana was still artistically conservative and showed a preference for a two-dimensional structure with sharp contours. In 1930 he held his first solo exhibition in the Milan “Galleria del Milione”, the success of which allowed him to participate in the 17th Venice Biennale. 

Continuous development, exile in Argentina

In the course of his artistic development, Lucio Fontana showed ever more enthusiasm for experimentation and visibly realised his creative visions in abstraction. He founded the Italian sector of the Parisian artist group “Abstraction-Création” with his artist friends Fausto Melotti, Atanasio Soldati and Luigi Veronesi; the group’s expressed goal was to give abstract art a new forum. In the mid-1930s, Lucio Fontana tried his hand extensively at ceramic work and was employed by the Sèvres manufactory. The Second World War finally forced him into many years of exile in his country of birth, Argentina, where from 1940 he worked in Buenos Aires as a teacher at the art school Altamira, which he founded. Only in 1947 was it possible for him to return to Milan and to drive his artistic career onwards.

Radical manifestos and an art full of holes

Following his return to Milan, Lucio Fontana developed increasingly radical artistic ideas which he set out in numerous manifestos. He postulated the end of static art genres and supported a return to the use of traditional materials. He exploded traditional notions also in his work and began to maltreat his canvases with a knife. The perforated pictures became world-famous as “Buchi” and represented an important caesura in Lucio Fontana’s artistic development. The artist himself conceived them as a metaphor for the bullet holes of the recently concluded World War, as well as a reference to the infinity of the firmament and the entire galaxy. Fontana pushed the principle of the holes to the extreme with the “Tagli”, the slashes  – and thus finally climbed the coveted summit of the Olympus of modern art. Fontana created his paintings by destroying their foundation – an unheard-of process which fascinated the critics and the public equally. Today Lucio Fontana’s works sell in the millions; his art belongs undisputedly to the canon of the classics of the 20th century.

Lucio Fontana died in Italy on 7 September 1968. 

© Kunsthaus Lempertz

Lucio Fontana Prices

Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale Attese€499.800
Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale 65-66 O 2€273.700
Lucio FontanaMatrice di incisione€124.000
Lucio FontanaConcetto Spaziale, Natura€93.750
Lucio FontanaUntitled€54.560
Lucio FontanaConcetto spaziale€53.550

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