Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lucio Fontana, Paintings 1956-1968, at Marianne Boesky, New York

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1964. Oil on canvas, 82 x 65 cm. Photos: 16 Miles [more]

Chelsea is far from abandoned at this point, but Marianne Boesky is the latest gallerist to join the small wave of people opening spaces on the Upper East Side. She's doing it in style, with eight pristine Lucio Fontana paintings. Seeing them in a quiet, old townhouse, hanging in intimately sized rooms is a rare pleasure.

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, 1962. Watercolor on canvas, 92 x 73 cm.

Lucio Fontana, 18 Concetto Spaziale, 1960. Linen, 94 x 74.6 cm.

The Concetto Spaziale paintings from the second half of the 1960s, below, are intensely stylized precious objects. Fontana seems to have figured out how to make a smooth, seamless cut in the canvas and decided to repeat the process. However, the earlier slash paintings are the real gems here, with their halting, awkward punctures, tears, and cuts. They still look strange today. The gold frames, fine molding along the walls, and beautiful fireplaces doesn't hurt either.

Left: Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1968. Watercolor on canvas, 92 x 73 cm. Right: Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1967. Watercolor on canvas, 92 x 73 cm.
Although in his late paintings Fontana’s utopianism was drastically qualified, until the end of his life he nevertheless clung tenaciously to the fantasy of a future “end of art,” one that would take place beyond the art object. As he stated in 1968, “Art is going to be a completely different thing. . . . Not an object, nor a form. ... Nothing more to do with bourgeois consumption, beauty attached to a sellable object. Art is going to become infinite, immensity, immaterial, philosophy. ... Enough with the bourgeois function of art. Open the doors.”
– Anthony White, "Lucio Fontana: Between Utopia and Kitsch," Grey Room 5 (Fall 2001), p. 73

Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese, 1967. Watecolor on canvas, 60 x 55 cm.

Lucio Fontana, "Paintings 1956-1968"
Marianne Boesky Gallery
118 East 64th Street
New York, New York
Through May 15, 2010
[more photographs]

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