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Lucio Fontana, Fonti di energia (Energy Sources), 1961/2017, neon. Installation view. Photo: Agostino Osio. © Fondazione Lucio Fontana.

Lucio Fontana

Pirelli HangarBicocca

Lucio Fontana, Fonti di energia (Energy Sources), 1961/2017, neon. Installation view. Photo: Agostino Osio. © Fondazione Lucio Fontana.

The slashed and punctured canvases in Lucio Fontana’s series “Tagli”(Cuts), 1958–68, and “Buchi”(Holes), 1949–68, are often characterized as extreme forms of midcentury modernism’s gestural impulses, or as embodiments of the postwar era’s lingering social turmoil. Both interpretations may be valid, but the Italian-Argentinean artist’s desecration of the picture plane may in fact be best understood in the context of his immersive “Ambienti spaziali” (Spatial Environments), 1948–68. This exhibition, curated by Marina Pugliese, Barbara Ferriani, and Vicente Todolí, presented careful reconstructions of nine of these explorations of phenomenological and cosmic space—five of which had not been seen since the artist’s death in 1968—offering a rare and visceral perspective on his larger project.

A suspended arabesque, Struttura al neon (Neon Structure), 1951/2017, dramatically

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