When one speaks about Lucio Fontana, the great Italian artist of the last century one recalls his canvases with cuts and holes, as being unique and idiosyncratic. Beniamino Levi , President of the Dalí Universe, first met Lucio Fontana in 1956, during the years when he ran his Galleria Levi in Milan, on Via Montenapoleone. He exhibited many Italian and international artists, amongst them Lucio Fontana.
Fontana was Argentinian by birth, born in 1899 in Rosario, to Italian immigrant parents. Lucio Fontana in his early years, worked as primarily as a sculptor alongside his father. In 1927 he returned to Italy and studied at the Milanese Accademia di Brera. He first ventured into abstractionism during the 1940s, and then Spazialism during the 1950s. He is probably best known for his ‘slash’ or ‘holes ‘canvases, created during the late 40’s and 50s. Levi met many famous artists and well known figures from the art world during his years in Milan, the most important meeting was with Dalí, it was this meeting that changed the course of his life.
In his Gallery in Milan, Levi exhibited many Italian and international artists, amongst them Lucio Fontana, who he recalls as being difficult to understand.
When asked what he recalls most about Fontana, Levi comments’ ‘his humbleness. He never spoke about himself, he only spoke about others. He explained to me why he made holes in his canvases. He wanted to create on the canvas a different dimension, a third’ dimension, with these holes and cuts... I understood him’. In the beginning, Fontana found it difficult to sell his artworks. His wife used to say ‘ you are stupid’! in her milanese dialect. According to Levi, Fontana was a ‘stylistic researcher.’ Who found an audience through his art.