Lucio Fontana

Lucio Fontana
Born Feb. 19, 1899
Santa Fe, Argentina
Died Sep. 7, 1968 (at age 69)
Varese, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Brera Academy, Milan
Movement Spatialism
Field Painting, Sculpting

Lucio Fontana was a famous Italian artist who was known for combining different mediums in order to create a new form of art. His contributions to the art movements in Italy in the 1960s have made him an influential artist to many.

Lucio’s Early Years

Born in 1899 in Santé Fe, Argentina, Lucio’s parents were of Italian decent. After his birth, his parents moved back to Italy for a few years before deciding to return to Argentina. After returning, Lucio worked beside his father who was an avid sculptor.

In the mid 1920s, Lucio opened his own studio before moving to Milan to begin his formal training. He was the protégé of famous sculptor Adolf Wildt. Wildt taught him several techniques of using gilded plaster and how to use plasticity in unique ways. Fontana also attended the Accademia di Brera in 1928 where he began to enhance his ability to create.

Fontana’s Style and Technique

Although Fontana had mild success as an artist during his early years, it was not until 1930 when he presented his first true exhibition in Milan that he began to really gain notoriety. In 1934 he created the Harpooner, which showed the artist’s style at the time. A few years later, however, he abandoned the rather strict style of sculpting at the time in exchange for a more abstract form of art. He collaborated with other abstract and expressionist painters and was heavily influenced by them.

By 1935, he joined the Abstracion – Creation group in France. This prompted him to begin creating sculptures with an expressionist point of view which concentrated on emotions and feelings rather than reality. His ceramic and bronze sculptures were well-known and in 1939, he became a member of the expressionist group of artists known as the Corrente. This group out of Milan traveled around Europe doing exhibitions of their work.

A huge part of Lucio Fontana’s appeal was his ability to form a marriage between sculpting and painting. Many of his freestanding pieces were created with plaster, iron, and metal. His use of shapes was somewhat inconsistent among his work. Geometric design and placement seemed to differ from sculpture to sculpture, at times being nearly perfect and at other times seeming rather scattered. His work Abstract Sculpture used iron and metal in a single pane design, where suggestions of equivocation were raised.

Lucio also had a hand in clay with a rather impressive collection of ceramics. In 1937, he created the work called Horses. This piece helped him express his feelings about what was going in Italy at the time.

The Idea of Spatialism

lucio-fontanaIn 1946, Lucio moved back to Argentina where he opened a school for aspiring artists. This is where Lucio, along with a group of his students, wrote what is called the White Manifesto. This public display of policy stated that certain elements like color and matter are remarkable things that make innovative art when they are combined.

At this time he began to come up with some of his other theories as well, which later helped form the idea behind Spatialism. He supported the theory wholeheartedly and wrote his own collection of manifestos to prove it. His manifesto marked the beginning of him embracing the fusion of art and the scientific process. He began to reject the normal views of art by questioning the use of traditional canvas, paper, and other two-dimensional platforms.

The Concept of Spatialism

The Spatialism movement saw Lucio and other spatialists introduce unconventional methods of creating art. Three and four-dimensional works were created and color was often used as an object rather than an idea. The use of neon lights, television, and other modern technologies of the time were key elements in Spatialism.

Understanding and using the environment to create art was also important. In 1947, Lucio created a work of art known as the Black Spatial Environment. With this idea, a room painted in all black was made to show the use of the environment as a canvas. In the years following that, Fontana’s works continued to embody the Spatialism movement. He ripped and cut canvas with a razor with the observer not really having a clear view of his ideas. But his talent for turning art into a performance is one of the things that made him very memorable in the art world.

Lucio Fontana’s sculptures and paintings can be found in museums and collectors’ homes all around the world. His works, such as Nature, and his canvas paintings are prized in the art community. Teresita, a piece that Lucio left for his wife, sold for almost $12 million at an auction in London. His contribution to the Spatialism movement and the innovative design elements he utilized has influenced a generation of artists to think outside of the box. Lucio Fontana died on September 7th, 1968, at the age of 69 in Varese, Italy.

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