* 1899 Rosario di Santa Fé/Argentinien
† 1968 Comabbio bei Varese
Lucio Fontana was born in Rosario di Santa Fé in Argentina on 19 February 1899 as son of an Italian sculptor. In 1905 the artist's family moved from Argentina to Milan, where Fontana studied engineering under Carlo Cattaneo from 1914. After serving in the Italian armed forces, he graduated in engineering in 1918. Returning to Argentina in 1922, he worked at first in his father's studio for sculpture before opening one of his own in 1924. By 1928 he was again in Milan, where he studied sculpture at the Accademia di Brera. In addition to figurative sculpture, he produced terracotta reliefs and painted plaster plaques from 1931, which show that he was moving towards abstraction. In 1934 Fontana joined the Paris group 'Abstraction-Création', founding the Milan branch. The following year it issued a manifesto on abstract art and Fontana had his first one-man show at the Galleria del Milione in Milan. From 1939 the artist was again in Argentina, where he co-founded the Altamira private academy in 1946, issuing with his students the 'Manifesto Blanco' calling for a synthesis of genres and the rejection of conventional materials. Once again in Milan, Fontana formulated his quest for a new spatial art in 1948 in the first 'Technical Manifesto of Spatialism' and founded the 'Movimento spaziale' group. In 1949 he realised his first 'Ambiente spaziale', a precursor of Environment, in a Milan gallery. That same year he produced his first perforated canvases, which, like all the works to follow, bore the title 'Concetto spaziale' (Spatial concept). Concomitantly with the perforations of the 1950s, he also produced the 'Pietre' series. In 1958 Fontana embarked on his celebrated gashed canvases, violent interventions with sharp knives in what were usually monochrome painted surfaces. The early 1960s saw Fontana combining his pictorial devices with areas of paint, often mixed with sand and applied in thick layers which were often scored and incised. These works were followed by large, spherical bronze objects. During this period there were numerous one-man and group shows, including regular participation in the Venice Biennale, documenta 4 in Kassel (1968) and the touring exhibition mounted by the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1966-68). Fontana's career closed with 'La fine di dio', an impressive series of works which exerted an enormous influence on the younger generation of artists in the 1960s. Lucio Fontana died in Varese on 7 September 1968.