Struttura al neon per la IX Triennale di Milano

Lucio Fontana

Museo del Novecento

Museo del Novecento

The oustanding contribution of Fontana to the installation of the 9th Milan Triennale (1951), designed by his friend Luciano Baldessari with the collaboration of Marcello Grisotto, was divided into two monumental project: the "Soffitto spaziale" with indirect lighting for the atrium of Palazzo dell'Arte and this "Struttura" wich dominated the grand staircase. This is one of the artist's most challenging environmental installations in neon: an arabesque of fluorescent light, made of dozens of hand-folded tubular segments, it runs for 100 metres suspended by steel cables from a false cieling specially installed by Baldessari and Grisotto. The dark blue ceiling specially constrasts spectacularly with the powerful light emanating from the lamps, softening the effect of ambient lighting and enhancing the legibility of the desgin gesture freely articulated in space. The depth and threee-dimensionality of the composition are often betrayed by photographs, which for the most part consign it to the history of art as an almost dematerialized sign. Yet these qualities must have been sursprisingly enhanced by both the slope of the three flights of stairs and the fact that it could be viewed not only from below but also obliquely from the first balcony. In Fontana's most radical achievements on the environmental scale, light is used graphically and plastically to brong out the sinuous forms of his cielings illuminated by indirect light or his pierced canvases. It is transformed into the fundamental and sometimes exclusive material of his work. From the late forties on the artist conceived the use of this new medium of expression as one of the most significant technical achievements of the Spatian Art movement, in keeping with the mythicization of light energy characteristic of Futurist theory. In a letter to his friend Gio Ponti, Fontana revealed a poetic consciousness that went far beyond the decorative indulgence or technological effect. "The Concetto Spaziale which illuminates the grand staircase at the 9th Milan Triennale not is a loop, arabesque or strand of spaghetti. I did it in defiance of the critics... It's the beginning of a new expression. We simply replaced... a new element which has entered into the aesthetic of the man in the street, neon light. With this we created a fanstastic new decoration". And the ability to engage the viewer proved crucial, as François Stahly observed: "On walking up the staircase, the viewer ceases to be passive, because each of step, by changing the point of view, makes him a co-creator of the space in which he moves". The design of the work is complex. numerous entwined patterns, sometimes drawing on the works of other artists, express its articulation two-dimensionally, simulating the evolutions of the luminous trace of a flahlight waved in the darkness. At the mechanical workshops of the Compagnia Lampade Pastelor (today CLOD srl) at Rozzano, which preserves the technical drawings used for the majority of the subsequent reconstructions, the sculptor fashioned a sculptural model in wire, now lost, but probably closely related to the wire composition recorded ina period photograph. Fontana and the company were awarded the Grand Prix of the Jury of the 9th Triennale, chaired by Piero Portaluppi. The artist's general catalogue records four authorized reconstructions. The first is kept at the Fondazione Fontana; the second, made under the direction of Luciano Baldessari and Zita Mosca for the Fontana retrospective at Palazzo Reale in 1927, no longer recoverable, has now been replaced by this one for the Museo del Novecento; and a third one, built in 1977 for an exhibition on Italian design of the fifties at the Centro Kappa at Noviglio and subsequently deposited at the CIMAC, was destroyed in 1992; a fourth, made for a retrospective exhibition at Bielefeld in 1984, was donated by the artist's widow, Teresita Rasini, to the Fundació La Caixa in Barcelona. [Giorgio Zanchetti]

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  • Title: Struttura al neon per la IX Triennale di Milano
  • Creator: Lucio Fontana
  • Date Created: 1951 (Reconstructed in 2010)
  • Physical Dimensions: 250 x 1000 x 800 cm circa
  • Type: Installation
  • Rights: Fondazione Lucio Fontana, Milan
  • Medium: Environmental installation, crystal glass tube, white neon light

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