Lucio Fontana Biography

Lucio Fontana

Argentinan / Italian



Lucio Fontana was a painter and sculptor born in Rosario, province of Santa Fe, Argentina, the son of an Italian father and an Argentine mother. He was mostly known as the founder of Spatialism and his ties to Arte Povera. Fontana spent the first years of his life in Italy and came back to Argentina in 1905, where he stayed until 1922, working as a sculptor along with his father and then on his own.

In 1928 he returned to Italy, and there he presented his first exhibition in 1930, organized by the Milano art gallery Il Milione. During the following decade he journeyed Italy and France, working with abstract and expressionist painters.

In 1940 he returned to Argentina. In Buenos Aires (1946) he founded the Altamira academy together with some of his students, and made public the White Manifesto, where he states that "Matter, colour and sound in motion are the phenomena whose simultaneous development makes up the new art". Back in Milano in 1947, he supported, along with writers and philosophers, the first manifesto of spatialism (Spazialismo)**. He also resumed his ceramics works in Albisola.

From 1958 on he started the so-called slash series, consisting in holes or slashes on the painting surface, drawing a sign of what he named "an art for the Space Age". In 1959 he exhibited cut-off paintings with multiple combinable elements (he named the sets quanta). He participated in the Bienal de S‹o Paulo and in numerous exhibitions in Europe (including London and Paris) and Asia, as well as New York.

Shortly before his death he was present at the "Destruction Art, Destroy to Create" demonstration at the Finch College Museum of New York. Then he left his home in Milano and went to Comabbio (in the province of Varese, Italy), his family's mother town, where he died in 1968.

Fontana's works can be found in the permanent collections of more than one hundred museums around the world. He was the sculptor of the bust of Ovidio Lagos, founder of the La Capital newspaper, in Carrara marble. Source: Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940" SF Chronicle, 3-10-1940; Interview with the artist or his/her family.