Lucio Fontana

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Lucio Fontana (b. 1899, Rosario de Santa Fé, Argentina – d. 1968, Varese, Italy) was born to Italian parents. His father, Luigi Fontana was a sculptor with whom Lucio worked alongside until he broke off on his own. In 1926 he participated in the first exhibition of Nexus, a group of young Argentine artists working in Rosario de Santa Fé. In 1928, he moved to Milan to sudy at Accademia di Brera under the sculptor Adolfo Wildt. During the 1930s, Fontana’s work became more abstract and expressionist.  In the 1940s, he began to formulate the theories that would ultimately be called Spazialismo, or Spacialism, beginning with the White Manifesto, where it is stated that “Matter, color and sound in motion are the phenomena whose simultaneous development makes up the new art”. In his Buch (holes) work, he puncured the surface of his canvases, breaking the membrane of two-dimensionality to highlight the space behind the picture. He often lined the revers of his canvases with black gauze so that the darkness would create a mysterious sense of illusion and depth. Later on, around 1960, Fontana began to reinvent his cuts and punctures, covering canvases with thick layers of oil paint and using a knife to cut into their surface.

Fontana’s first solo show was in 1931 at Galleria del Milione, Milan. His first solo show at an American museum was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, in 1966. He has had many major retrospectives by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Haward Gallery, Fondazione Lucio Fontana, and the Centre Georges Pompidou. Since 1930 his work has been exhibited regularly at the Venice Biennale, winning the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale of 1966.