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"Lucio Fontana began to punch holes (or buchi) through his canvases in 1949–50, the aim being literally to break through the surface of the work so that the viewer could perceive the space that lies beyond. Fontana seems to have regarded this gesture as a means of disclosing the unlimited space of the sublime, announcing, ‘I have created an infinite dimension’.1 Towards the end of the 1950s, the artist experimented further with cuts (or tagli) executed with a razor. Although carefully premeditated, the slashes in these later canvases – Spatial Concept ‘Waiting’ (Tate T00694, fig.1) dates from 1960 – appear spontaneous and bear a certain resemblance to the ‘zips’ in the abstract expressionist paintings of Barnett Newman. The effect of Fontana’s cutting varies from canvas to canvas. In some works, such as this one, the viewer is drawn into the space beyond the canvas; in other works the slash seems to erupt outwards, conveying the force of the original assault towards the viewer in a way that is both energetic and terrifying. Despite the obviously violent implications of his art, Fontana maintained that he had set out to construct rather than to destroy."


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