Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) was one of the most significant personalities in European post-war art but also one of the most controversial. His renown began with the radical gesture of perforating and slashing monochrome canvases. By lacerating the traditional surface of a picture, he opened up a new dimension in the tangible experience of space through an illusionistic representation of space. For the viewer, therefore, the image becomes a clearly palpable experience of space combining formal and individual genres in terms of content.
As Fontana wrote in 1946 in his well-known Manifesto bianco, “We need a change in essence and in form. We need to go beyond painting, sculpture, poetry and music. We need a greater Art, in harmony with the requirements of the new spirit. Perforated canvases, sculptures in the most variegated materials, room-filling neon installations as well as designs for stage scenery are witness to his creative power. During his whole life, however, and in line with his universalistic way of thought, Fontana kept the traditional genres of drawing, painting and sculpture as the point of departure for his work. In content, his works are closely interwoven with the sciences and the new media of his time which is why his work depicts the fluctuating relationship between the traditional and the modern.
The "Lucio Fontana"-exhibition in the museum franz gertsch has gathered works from his famous Buchi (Holes), Tagli (Cuts) and Teatrini (Little Theatres) that up to now have rarely been exhibited. He created a prolific amount of graphic work with abstract motifs as well as figures, little-known in the art world, at the same time as he was producing his abstract perforated works. This collection will be exhibited for the first time. It includes numerous studies for the sculptures, neon installations and early drawings of robot-like creatures as well as large brush and ink drawings of female nudes. Thanks to the generous co-operation of the Fondazione Lucio Fontana in Milan, Italy, it is now possible to show the collection of drawings on this scale. A further highlight of the exhibition is the reconstruction of the Ambiente spaziale bianco with which Fontana caused a sensation in the international art world in 1968 at the Documenta IV in Kassel. This exhibition in the museum franz gertsch will be the first in fifteen years in Switzerland that gives an overview of Lucio Fontana’s works.
An exhibition catalogue with contributions by Lóránd Hegyi, René Hirner, Ursula Köhler, Anna Pfeiffer, Reinhard Spieler and Wendelin Renn will be published by Hatje Cantz in German. There will also be a brief introduction to the exhibition in English and German written by Pirkko Rathgeber.