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Concetto spaziale, Attese
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Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)\nConcetto spaziale, Attese\nsigned, titled and inscribed 'l. Fontana "Concetto Spaziale" ATTESE 1 + 1-HH 34' (on the reverse)\nwaterpaint on canvas\n31½ x 39 3/8in. (80 x 100.2cm.)\nExecuted in 1963-64
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notes

'The works of art collected by Frits Becht are not satisfied with just shaking the walls of his new house, they cast into doubt all the old questions of aesthetics, for they obey other values. They are part of the planetary metamorphosis and can only accept to be tamed by their current owner, because this man of taste has commited his time to them. They are a transient testimony of a somewhere else, which will end up being everywhere; one day they will regain their freedom. Frits Becht will then be able to regain his: Pandora will open her box, which will be full of all of the goods for the year 2000. As for him, Frits Becht will have deserved his place amongst the promoters of a generalised aesthetic, the engineers of free time and the poets of organised space' (P. Restany, Paris 1968, quoted in 'Becht', 'three blind mice'/de collecties: Visser, Peeters, Becht, exh. cat., Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1968, n.p.).

'I wanted to create a 'spatial environment, by which I mean an environmental structure, a preliminary journey in which the twenty 'slits would be as if in a labyrinth containing blanks of the same shape and colour' (L. Fontana, quoted in S. Whitfield, Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., London, 1999, p. 200).

Forming the centrepiece of the distinguished Becht collection for over forty years, Concetto spaziale, Attese (1963-64) is a pure, lyrical and stunningly fluid example of Lucio Fontanas pioneering Spatialist aesthetic. Acquired at the renowned Galleria del Leone in Venice, 1966, it is one of the largest works to be carried out in pristine, virginal white. Concetto spaziale, Attese unites eight perfected cuts on canvas, each incision following the intuitive rhythm and graceful, almost balletic momentum of the artists arm as it traces and penetrates the surface. With the apparently simple gesture of striking through the canvas, Fontana was elucidating the mysteries of light and movement, inviting the viewer to be consumed by the dark infinity beyond the picture plane. Created during the same period as the artists pivotal Fine di Dio paintings (March 1963 - February 1964), the large rectangular format of Concetto spaziale Attese complements the ground-breaking oval-shaped works; both variations invoking and articulating the mystical dimension that the vast void of Space appears to present to Man. Fontana had been watching the contemporary innovations in space travel and quantum physics with fascination, and considered existing modes of painting and sculpture outdated, unable to reflect the accelerated process of contemporary change. One of the first to appreciate the ramifications of such radical developments, he eagerly sought to find a means of expressing it within art. As he wrote the discovery of new physical powers, the conquest of matter and space gradually impose on man conditions which have never existed before the application of these discoveries to the various forms of life brings about a substantial transformation in our way of thinking. The painted surface, the erected stone, no longer have a meaning (Technical Manifesto, reproduced in J. Van der Marck, The Spatial Concept of Art, Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 1966).

Fontanas solution entailed the penetration of the canvas with vertical tagli (cuts) to create a three-dimensional object, existing in real space. As he once expounded, what we want to do is to unchain art from matter, to unchain the sense of the eternal from the preoccupation with the immortal. And we dont care if a gesture, once performed, lives a moment or a millennium, since we are truly convinced that once performed it is eternal (First Spatialist Manifesto, 1947 reproduced in E. Crispolti et al. (eds.), Lucio Fontana, Milan 1998, pp. 117-118). In articulating this radical vision, Fontana found white to be the 'purest, least complicated, most understandable colour [An embodiment of] 'pure simplicity, 'pure philosophy, 'spatial philosophy, 'cosmic philosophy (J. van der Marck and E. Crispolti, Lucio Fontana, Vol. I, Brussels, 1974, p. 137). It is in the striking contrast between the pristine white luminosity of the surface and the darkness of the multiple voids in Concetto spaziale, Attese, that Fontanas Spatial concept finds its best expression. Frits and Agnes Becht acquired Concetto spaziale, Attese at the renowned Galleria del Leone in Venice in 1966. This was the year that Fontana was awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the XXXIII Venice Biennale for his Ambiente Spaziale. This grand installation saw the artist taking his iconic gesture to a new level of ambition. Created in collaboration with the architect Carlo Scarpa, Fontana envisaged a white, luminous maze, filled with examples of his tagli. As Fontana explained to Pierre Restany: 'I wanted to create a 'spatial environment, by which I mean an environmental structure, a preliminary journey in which the twenty 'slits would be as if in a labyrinth containing blanks of the same shape and colour (L. Fontana, quoted in S. Whitfield, Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., London, 1999, p. 200). This all-consuming and transcendent experience of the Ambiente spaziale greatly impressed the Bechts, who for many years had been seeking to acquire their own flawless white tagli.

The following year in 1967, Fontana staged a major exhibition of his Concetti Spaziali at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. The Bechts, who had been admirers of his work since the early 1960s, held areception in his honour at their home in Hilversum, Holland, attended by art world luminaries including his compatriot, Mimmo Rotella. By way of thanks, the artist gave Agnes Becht a work of her choosing; a cerulean blue Concetto spaziale, Attese signed Madame Agnes Becht (for Madame Agnes Becht). The Bechts were great sponsors of contemporary art, forging relationships with artists and curators including Joseph Beuys, Carl Andre, Mario Merz, Richard Long, Yayoi Kusama, Gilbert & George, Mimmo Rotella, Jan Dibbets, Lawrence Wiener, Martial Raysse, Rudi Fuchs and Pierre Restany. Within their collection, the Bechts united important pieces from these artists and many others, preserving milestones of Conceptual art, Minimalism, Pop Art, Nouveau Ralisme and Arte Povera. Invited on numerous occasions to showcase their collection, Concetto spaziale, Attese (1963-1964) was exhibited, along with other landmark works, in the Stedelijk van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, the Sint Pietersabdij, Gent, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Muse dart moderne, Villeneuve dAscq and the Centre dArt Contemporain Midi-Pyrnes, Labge-Innopole. On the occasion of their first major exhibition, three blind mice (1968, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum), in which three private collections were introduced to the public - Mia and Martin Visser, Hubert Peeters and Frits and Agnes Becht, Pierre Restany wrote a fitting tribute to his friends: 'The works of art collected by Frits Becht are not satisfied with just shaking the walls of his new house, they cast into doubt all the old questions of aesthetics, for they obey other values. They are part of the planetary metamorphosis and can only accept to be tamed by their current owner, because this man of taste has committed his time to them. They are a transient testimony of a somewhere else, which will end up being everywhere; one day they will regain their freedom. Frits Becht will then be able to regain his: Pandora will open her box, which will be full of all of the goods for the year 2000. As for him, Frits Becht will have deserved his place amongst the promoters of a generalised aesthetic, the engineers of free time and the poets of organised space (P. Restany, Paris 1968, quoted in Becht, three blind mice/de collecties: Visser, Peeters, Becht, exh. cat., Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1968, n.p.).

title

Concetto spaziale, Attese

medium

Waterpaint on canvas

prelot

PROPERTY FROM THE FRITS AND AGNES BECHT COLLECTION, HOLLAND

signed

Signed, titled and inscribed 'l. Fontana "Concetto Spaziale" ATTESE 1 + 1-HH 34' (on the reverse)

creator

Lucio Fontana

postlot

This work is registered in the Archivio Lucio Fontana, Milan under no. 3629/1.

keywords

Lucio Fontana , 1960s, Paintings, Italy, Post War

exhibited

Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, 'three blind mice'/de collecties: Visser, Peeters, Becht, 1968, no. 107 (illustrated, p. 61 and 74). This exhibition later travelled to Ghent, Kunsthal Sint Pietersabdij.

Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum, Moderne Italiaanse kunst uit Nederlands bezit, 1969.

Amsterdam, Voormalige gordijnenfabriek Wild & Hardebeck, Werken uit de jaren '60, 1982.

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, The Becht Collection, Visual Art from the Agnes and Frits Becht Collection, 1984, no. 140 (incorrectly illustrated, p. 95).

Labege-Innopole, Centre d'Art Contemporain Midi-Pyrénées, Collection Agnes et Frits Becht, 1987 (installation view illustrated in colour, p. 25). This exhibition later travelled to Villeneuve d'Asq, Musée d'Art Moderne, 1988.

department

POST-WAR & CONTEMPORARY ART

dimensions

31½ x 39 3/8in. (80 x 100.2cm.)

provenance

Galleria del Leone, Venice.

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1966.

special_notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

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