|Spatial Concept, Waiting|
by Lucio Fontana, 1960
The way it causes such controversial reactions and anger to people is what makes it outstanding. A reaction is what an artist wants: why would you look at art and have no emotion towards it? I recently went to the famous Tate Modern with my auntie and I saw her looking at this sculpture; she then said “That makes me sad” I was intrigued by her response, asking why. “Because this isn't good, a child could have done this.” Then I began to explain to her that because of its simplicity it engaged itself to you, it evoked a reaction out of you and so you would tell others about it and it would become a popular piece of art. Don't you find it ironic how the way you hate it makes it good? It's you the viewer who makes this sculpture stand here in this gallery.
But also it is not just the simplicity of the art which makes it good; it could, in fact, offer complicity; you can't say it's bad and walk away without knowing anything about the art, you can't pick up a book and look at it and say that book was awful without reading it in depth.
One painting that stood out to me was the ‘Spatial Concept, Waiting’ created by Lucio Fontana in 1960 (see above). It is a canvas with a slash in it. This was a painting my auntie looked at for one second then moved away, but she didn't know anything about the piece so how could she not like it? This is my favourite piece of art I've ever come across, simply because of the meaning and
practice behind it. Fontana has slashed a piece of paper and a canvas to show the distinction between 2D and 3D dimensionality. That is one reason that this piece is now so well known. It took Fontana twenty years (1940-1960) to figure out how to get the right slash, how to get it
to represent what he wanted to portray.
He started off with multiple slashes in a canvas, then by 1959 decided to have one more decisive slash. Each cut was made with a single gesture using a sharp blade, and the canvases were then backed with strong black gauze giving the appearance of a void behind. The black behind the canvas added a temporal dimension to the generic title 'Spatial Concept'. How Fontana slashed an unpainted canvas shows affinity between the rawness of the surface and the existing character gestured itself. How the clashing of destruction and creation were both uplifted in Fontana’s work is what I find so amazing about his piece. Fontana wrote on one of his 1948 pieces: ‘Art dies but is saved by gesture', thus linking with his 1960 piece; the same gesture that negated the canvas as a purely pictorial vehicle also opened up its sculptural possibilities. Another depth into the slashes, gashes and cuts of Fontana’s work was inevitably to evoke pain as it particularly portrays wounds in skin. How it evokes pain means an emotion is formed in the spectator of the piece, so then this stays in the mind of the spectator, which is why it has stayed in my mind and became such a great piece of modern art. Now is it just a simple piece of art or is it a piece of art with dimensional meanings?