Lucio Fontana

(1899 in Rosario, Argentina – 1968 in Combacio, Varese, Italy)

Lucio Fontana was born February 19, 1899, in Rosario de Santa Fé, Argentina. His father was Italian and his mother Argentinean. From 1905 to 1922, he lived in Milan and then moved back to Argentina, where he worked as a sculptor in his father’s studio for several years before opening his own. In 1926, he participated in the first exhibition of Nexus, a group of young Argentinean artists working in Rosario de Santa Fé. Upon his return to Milan, in 1928, Fontana enrolled at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera, which he attended for two years. The Galleria Il Milione, Milan, organized Fontana’s first solo exhibition in 1930. In 1935, the artist traveled to Paris and joined the Abstraction-Création group. The same year, he developed his skills in ceramics in Albisola, Italy, and later at the Sèvres factory, near Paris. In 1939, he joined the Corrente, a Milanese group of expressionist artists. In 1940, Fontana moved to Buenos Aires. With some of his students, he founded the Academia de Altamira and published the Manifiesto Blanco. Later on, he moved back to Milan where philosophers signed the Primo manifesto dello Spazialismo in collaboration with a group of writers and. In 1949, Fontana’s career had a turning point; he created the Holes (Buchi), his first series of paintings in which he punctured the canvas, and his first spatial environment, a combination of shapeless sculptures, fluorescent paintings, and black lights to be viewed in a dark room. The latter works soon led him to employ neon tubing in ceiling decoration. In the early 1950s, he participated in the Italian Art Informel exhibitions. During this decade, he explored working with various effects, such as slashing and perforating, in both painting and sculpture. In 1961,the artist visited New York during a show of his work at the Martha Jackson Gallery. In 1966, he designed opera sets and costumes for Il Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In the last year of his career, Fontana became increasingly interested in staging his work in many exhibitions and in the idea of purity achieved in his last white canvases. These concerns were prominent at the 1966 Venice Biennale, for which he designed the environment for his work, and at the 1968 Documenta in Kassel. Fontana died on the 7th September 1968, in Comabbio, Varese, Italy.