Hauser & Wirth has revealed that it will undertake a three-show series with the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, the Milan-based foundation for the famed postwar artist whose work dealt with the perceptual effects and three-dimensional nature of painting.
Fontana’s work has been the subject of recent surveys at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Hangar PirelliBicocca in Milan. But he remains known mainly for his “Concetto spaziale” pieces, for which the artist slashed monochromatically painted canvases. They have been hotly coveted by collectors of late, with a bright yellow 1964 example going for a record $29.5 million at auction in 2015. With its three exhibitions, Hauser & Wirth is aiming to provide a fuller picture of the artist’s oeuvre.
“We really see him as the quintessential artist in the history of postwar European art, and internationally, he’s not where we think he should be, especially not for certain aspects of his work,” Marc Payot, a vice president and partner at Hauser & Wirth, told ARTnews. “Today, the art world is very global. We feel that we can be pushing even more, in terms of his growth and legacy.”
The first Fontana show lined up for Hauser & Wirth’s schedule is due to open at its Los Angeles gallery in February. That one will focus on the artist’s “Ambienti,” his large-scale neon installations featuring tubing that appears to crisscross and curl around ceilings. (Some of these works were on view in the Met survey.) Next up will be an exhibition of Fontana’s ceramics and sculptures in New York in spring 2021, followed by a survey of the Argentine-born artist’s work in the fall of that year in Hong Kong, whose art community has “not seen that much Fontana,” Payot said. Luca Massimo Barbero, the director of the Institute of Art History at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice and the editor of a forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Fontana’s ceramics, will curate all three exhibitions. Alongside all this, the gallery and the foundation will work together to release books about Fontana through Hauser & Wirth’s publishing imprint.
Payot stressed that Hauser & Wirth does not represent the Fondazione Lucio Fontana, instead characterizing the relationship between the gallery and the foundation as a “collaboration.” “This way of collaborating is very much in synch with how we think,” he said. “It doesn’t bother us at all. It’s really taking an important position within the development of Fontana’s legacy.”