Ludio Fontana

Love the simplicity yet passion of his work

Ludio Fontana was born on February 19th, 1899 in Rosario di Santa Fé in Argentina. His father was an Italian sculptor. In 1905 the artist’s family moved to Milan. From 1914 Fontana attended Carlo Cattaneo’s vocational school for the building trade. Having completed his military service, he graduated in civil engineering in 1918. In 1922 he returned to Argentina, where he initially worked in his father’s sculptor studio. In 1924 he opened his own studio.

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In 1928 he was back in Milan, studying sculpture at the ‘Accademia di Brera’ until 1930. From 1931 he produced his first terracotta reliefs and painted gypsum plates alongside his figured sculptures, with which he approached abstract art. In 1934 Fontana joined the Paris group of artists ‘Abstraction-Création’. He set up their Milan section. In the following year they published a manifesto on abstract art. Fontana had his first solo exhibition at the ‘Galleria del Milione’ in Milan. In 1939 Fontana returned to Argentina, where he became the co-founder of the private academy of Altamira in 1946, and wrote the ‘Manifesto Blanco’ with his students. This manifesto demands a synthesis of the genre and a break with traditional material. In 1948 Lucio Fonatana voiced his search for a new spacial art in his ‘First Manifesto of Spazialismo’ in Milan. He founded the group ‘Movimento spaziale’. In a Milan gallery he realized the first ‘Ambiente spaziale’, a predecessor of Environment in 1949. In the same year he produced his first perforated canvasses, which, like all following pieces, were entitled ‘Concetto spaziale’ (spacial concept). In the 1950s alongside his perforations, he created a series of ‘Pietre’. In 1958 Fontana began to produce his famous cuts in canvas. These are brutish interventions in the form of sharp knife cuts in the mostly monochromously painted surfaces. In the early 1960s he combined his pictoral elements with thickly applied colors, often mixed with sand, into which he often scratched or drew. His large ball-shaped bronze objects followed. This time was marked by numerous solo and group exhibitions, including regular contributions to the Venice biennale, the Kassel documenta 4 in 1968 and the travelling exhibition of the Museum of Modern Art, New York from 1966 to 1968. The impressive series of works ‘La fine di dio’ completed Fontana’s development as an artist. From the 1960s Fontana had a considerable influence on the younger generation of artists. Lucio Fonatana died on September 7, 1968, in Varese.

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