The work of artist Lucio Fontana will be back in New York next month — 58 years after the late artist made his only visit to the city.
When “Lucio Fontana: On the Threshold” bows at the Met Breuer Jan. 23, it will be the first major survey of his work in more than 40 years. The show will examine his work including sculptures, paintings, drawings and environments. Creator of the art movement Spatialism, Fontana’s slashed paintings became symbols of the postwar era. The Met’s show, which runs through April 14, will include examples of this series, known as “Cuts,” or “Tagli.”
The catalogue references Fontana’s own take on the work. “When I sit down in front of one of my Tagli [Cuts], to contemplate it, I suddenly feel a great expansion of the spirit,” he explained in 1961. “I feel like a man liberated from the slavery of the material, like a man who belongs to the vastness of the present and the future.”
The artist’s oeuvre is admired by some leading members of the fashion crowd, including Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli. The pair showcase Fontana’s work among the artists on view in the Fondazione Prada. Fontana’s work has attracted the admiration of Tory Burch, Tom Ford, Bulgari, MaxMara and other fashion designers and brands through the years.
Fifty-one years old when he began working with canvas, Fontana worked in various disciplines. In a foreword for the exhibition’s catalogue, The Met’s director Max Hollein described the Argentine-Italian’s 1958 slashing of a linen painting with a knife as “one of the most radical artistic acts in the aftermath of World War II.” From his point of view, the decade’s worth of lacerated canvases that followed — until his death in 1968 — “became icons of an era,” Hollein wrote. “No other artworks better symbolized the anxieties of the times: a new world order was established in the midst of an arduous postwar reconstruction period, rapid technological developments and the competing economic models of capitalism and communism.”
Fontana’s only other one-person exhibitions were held in New York at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1977 and 2007. The Met’s show was made possible by the International Council of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Fondazione Lucio Fontana helped to organize the exhibition.