Walking the Space: Curator Luca Massimo Barbero on Lucio Fontana’s Spatial Environments, 1948 – 1968

  • 12 February 2020

For the first in a trilogy of exhibitions, Fontana's revolutionary ‘Ambienti spaziali’ come to Los Angeles.

Beginning 13 February in Los Angeles, ‘Lucio Fontana. Walking the Space: Spatial Environments, 1948 – 1968’ marks the first comprehensive presentation in the US of the late Italian master’s groundbreaking ‘Ambienti spaziali’ (Spatial Environments). Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero in collaboration with the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan, this landmark exhibition highlights Fontana’s critical contribution to the evolution of conceptual art and the confluence of art with science and technology as a means to explore aspects of human perceptual experience.

‘When you start to study Fontana, you discover the universe.’—Luca Massimo Barbero

After returning to Italy in 1947, Fontana sought to establish a new form of art-making, one that transcended the use of paint or sculpture in favor of immersing his viewer in a dynamic environment using space and light, thus setting the spectator as the center-point of the composition. The exhibition will feature nine of Fontana’s environments, arranged chronologically dating from the years spanning 1948 to 1968. Together, these ephemeral works reveal the artist’s revolutionary approach to artmaking as a quest to ‘open up space, create a new dimension, tie in the cosmos, as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture.’

Lucio Fontana, 'Struttura al neon per la IX Triennale di Milano' [Neon Structure for the 9th Milan Triennale] 1951 © Fondazione Lucio Fontana

Lucio Fontana, 'Ambiente spaziale con neon', 1967/2020 Installation view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 2020 Originally realised for the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1967 © Fondazione Lucio Fontana. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Beginning with the first work conceived in 1948, Fontana realizes the key tenets outlined in his Manifesto Spaziale [Spatialist Manifesto], a formative postwar text calling for the convergence of art and technology to discover new forms. By abolishing the constraints of conventional mediums, this environment embodies Fontana’s vision outlined in the Manifesto: ‘…with the resources of modern technology, we will make appear in the sky: artificial forms, rainbows of wonder, luminous writings.’ In so doing, these works predate and anticipate the immersive conceptual and spatial achievements of defining figures such as Piero Manzoni, Yayoi Kusama, and James Turrell. ‘Walking the Space’ is the first of a trilogy of exhibitions that Hauser & Wirth will present in collaboration with the Fontana Foundation and Luca Massimo Barbero, leading Fontana scholar, Director of the Institute of Art History, Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice, and Editor of the Fontana works on paper catalogue raisonné and of the Fontana ceramics catalogue raisonné (currently in progress). The Los Angeles exhibition will be followed by an exhibition in New York in Spring 2021, exploring Fontana’s ceramics and sculptures. Subsequently, a major survey of the artist’s full career will be staged at Hauser & Wirth Hong Kong in Fall 2021. –

Lucio Fontana. Walking the Space: Spatial Environments, 1948 – 1968’ is on view at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles 13 February – 12 April 2020.