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For information on the use of reproductions for publishing and/or commercial use, please contact [email protected] Fontana, an Italian artist who lived and worked in Argentina, was one of the first avant-garde artists to understand art as gesture or performance.His first solo exhibition at an American museum was held at the Walker in 1966, where a critic wrote in the that “Fontana gives his works a feeling of space by breaking the surface with perforations, punctures, ‘nervous’ slits, ‘quiet and dramatic’ slashes, or ‘fluttery’ holes.” The technique, which Fontana named , was conceived in 1949 when he punctured a thinly painted monochromatic canvas with a knife, exploding the definition–or at least the conventional space–of art.This act challenged the entire history of Western easel painting and led him to the understanding that painting was no longer about illusion contained within the dimensions of a canvas but a complex blend of form, color, architectural space, gesture, and light.Fontana was completely committed to abstraction, publishing in 1946 his famous “White Manifesto,” which expanded on ideas from another Italian movement, Futurism, about the role of science and technology in new art forms.In this manifesto he wrote about “the free development of color and form in real space to create an art that would transcend the area of the canvas to become an integral part of architecture.” that we start out the exhibition with is representative, I think, of an incredibly radical shift in the way that artists approach painting.But, Fontana really did the radical thing, which was to call your attention to the surface and say, “This is actually a flat plane and that’s what you’re looking at.You’re not looking at anything that’s an illusion.” By slashing it, which was kind of a violent act to perform on the painting, he was trying to bring in the space behind the painting.
If I’m mentally going through the permanent collection and I think of artists like Manzoni and Fontana – and let me throw Polke in at the same time – they are to me particularly important insofar as at crucial moments when it looked like nothing could move the notion of painting forward, these people came along and significantly suggested that everything could change one more time. I don’t have to hallucinate some piece of mise-en-scène and, then, take it to a canvas.” This is a total kind of interaction between the artist and the materials. The bad news is it leaves no room whatsoever for anybody to get in there and move ahead with its gesture.He was trying to allow that space to become part of the space of the painting. It’s almost like painting as sculpture, painting as an object.It’s a very simple gesture that he’s made, but I think a very provocative one. This outstanding show, with over one hundred works by well-known Italian and international artists, sets out to explore the relationship between art and religion from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century.The exhibition will be hosting work by such major Italian artists as Domenico Morelli, Gaetano Previati, Felice Casorati, Gino Severini, Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana and Emilio Vedova, together with works by such international masters as Vincent van Gogh, Jean-François Millet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Stanley Spencer, Georges Rouault and Henri Matisse.