About the Exhibition

Began 28 APRIL 2017 Ended 05 NOVEMBER 2017

Lucio Fontana


Closed Began 28 APRIL 2017 Ended 05 NOVEMBER 2017

  • Number of Works 19
  • Room Room 33 "Antonio Berni" (first floor)
  • Curator Andrés Duprat y Fernando Farina

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It has often been said that we Argentines are Europeans in exile. Italy has been, ever since the founding of our nation, an inevitable reference not only given our receiving of immigrants from its soil and its powerful influence over Argentine culture, but also, as in the specific case of the arts, given a model it has served as in the country's visual memory. This is due of course primarily to the quality, tradition and historical prestige of the peninsula's art, but also to the voyage of initiation generations of artists have made toward the cradle both of classical art and of the most daring aesthetic vanguards. We need only recall the founding irruption Emilio Pettoruti caused on returning to Argentina laden with Futurist baggage, or his antecedents Ángel Della Valle and Reynaldo Giudici, who marked the beginning of Argentine art with their Italian-inspired creations.
Yet the case of Lucio Fontana puts into question the direction of this bond: makes it a zone of passage, a back -and-forth, round-trip drifting- because his travels between the two countries and his later settling in Italy meant that an avant-garde was being universalized which, although it recognized its European inspiration, had first been constituted in Argentina. The piece that bursts in here, to become a watershed, is, undoubtedly, the Manifesto Blanco, one of the few extent original specimens of which we have on view for the first time at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. A programmatic text wrote under the direction of Lucio Fontana in 1946, it opposes the tradition of the avant-gardes, in the claim it makes for the autonomy of the arts, as it interpellates science, which, it claims, is bringing about a change in human nature; so much so, that its role should allow for an art in keeping with the new times. In phrases like “We are living in the age of mechanics. Painted cardboard and standing plaster no longer have any meaning," a phrase typical of all the rupture-minded traditions that view a historical phase as finished, there is a call to bring the arts up to date, those spiritual forms of every era, which must attune themselves to the technological revolution that is underway. The march toward movement and space, subject to a new temporality, urges this text, requires casting off the dead weight of art as it arose in the Renaissance, to which even the earlier avant-gardes that attack it remain captive. A cut needs to be made. A slash. Action, movement, time are to be the axes of the new art. Nevertheless, in a novel conceptual turnabout, the author suggests that it is not contemporary rationalism –father of science, to which he calls for new material bases for artistic evolution–, but rather, the return to the gesture of primitive man, to the subconscious, which must open up another field of experimentation from which the new work of art may arise, novel, integral, resolving the rift between nature and culture fostered by Modernity. There is rooted one of the keys to the future poetics which Fontana will work out in Italy, through several different artistic registers.

The exhibition Lucio Fontana, en las colecciones públicas argentinas surveys his career starting with his magnificent figurative sculptures and ending with his experimentation with the famous Spatial Concepts, with which he proposed an expansion of painting's two- dimensio- nality.

The show, which abounds in an eloquent record of the visual experimentation of the Italian-Argentine artist, takes stock of the presence of Fontana in Argentina's public collections, and includes works from the following museums: the Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Buenos Aires; the Provincial de Bellas Artes “Emilio Caraffa,” in Córdoba; the Municipal de Bellas Artes “Genaro Pérez,” also in Córdoba; Castagnino+macro in Rosario; the Provincial de Bellas Artes “Rosa Galisteo de Rodríguez,” in Santa Fe; the Museo de Artes Plásticas “Eduardo Sívori,” in Buenos Aires, and the Provincial de Bellas Artes “Emilio Pettoruti,” in La Plata; the Museo del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto; that of the Fundación Klemm - the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes and that of the Fundación Espigas - Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM).

Finally, I wish to thank Fernando Farina, with whom we have curated the exhibition, the Sociedad Italia Argentina, the Italian Embassy in Argentina, the Italian Cultural Institute, the individuals and institutions who've been involved in it, and the Association of Friends of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Andrés Duprat
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes