AUGEOS AND ARTS
(Rosario,19 February 1899 – Comabbio,7 September 1968) was an Argentine-Italian painter, sculptor and theorist. He is mostly known as the founder of Spatialism.
Fontana was born in Rosario, Argentina, on February 19, 1899, from Italian parents and died in 1968 in Comabbio, a village in the province of Varese. He lived in Argentina until he was six years old and returned there during the First World War. His artistic activity began in 1921, working in the sculpture workshop of his father Luigi Fontana and, of his father’s colleague and friend, the Molinellese Giovanni Scarabelli. He then became a follower of Adolfo Wildt.
Since 1949, breaking the canvas with holes and cuts, he overcame the traditional distinction between painting and sculpture. Space ceased to be the object of representation according to the conventional rules of perspective. The surface of the canvas itself, breaking into reliefs and indentations, entered into a direct relationship with real space and light.
At the end of the 1940s, he collaborated with Fontana Arte in the creation of ceramic bases for tables and coffee tables (based on a design by architect Roberto Menghi).
His monochromatic canvases, often spray-painted, bear the mark of the artist’s precise, confident gestures who, leaving the brushes behind, handles razor blades, knives and saws. Everything is played on the shadows with which, especially the grazing light, underlines the solutions of continuity.
Fontana came to his poetics by meditating on the baroque lesson, in which, as he wrote the figures seem to abandon the surface and continue in space. Of the Spatialist movement he was the founder and the most famous representative, soon to be internationally known.
Some of his monochrome canvases, such as the holes and cuts, are to be understood as openly provocative gestures that scandalized the public also for the ease with which it is possible to reproduce them. There were in fact many forgers, but few with an equally sure sign. Fontana, for caution, wrote on the back of each canvas senseless phrases, a simple handhold for calligraphic expertise. Painter, sculptor, ceramist, mosaicist, he also treated the painted cement, dedicating himself to architecture.
On April 12, 2008 in the auction room of Christie’s in London the author’s work “Spatial Concept. Waiting”, estimated at between £3.5 and £5.5 million, was awarded in the “Post-War and Contemporary Art” auction for £6,740,500, equal to €9,018,789.