Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative post–World War II Italian artists. Best known for his tagli—slashed, mostly monochromatic canvases—Fontana fashioned a remarkably multifaceted oeuvre that encompasses architecture, sculpture, and ceramics, as well as painting. In his quest to expand the vocabulary of his art, Fontana subjected the pictorial surface of his paintings to a remarkable assortment of punctures, gashes, and slashes, as well as adornments of glass fragments, glittering aluminum flakes, and sand.
This richly illustrated book, the third in the Getty Conservation Institute's Artist's Materials series, presents the first technical study in English of this important painter. Initial chapters present an informative overview of Fontana's life and work. Subsequent chapters examine the nine major cycles of work on canvas that constitute his most important achievement, focusing on the physical genesis of these landmark paintings: How did Fontana's philosophical concerns influence his choice of materials? Once he had settled on an aesthetic concept, what precise means did he use to realize it? Did physical constraints imposed by the material force him to adjust his concepts? In considering these questions, this book seeks to illuminate how Fontana's material choices over the course of his career fit into the gradual evolution of idea into form.
Pia Gottschaller is a freelance paintings curator and conservator.