Fontana’s Red Canvas with Five Slashes Sold for US$4.94m

Two intriguing paintings were sold for high prices at Christie’s Paris. A canvas in complete blue titled “Monochrome bleu sans titre” fetches €2.16m (US$2.54m). It was no ordinary blue as this “International Klein Blue” deep blue hue was first mixed by the artist himself.

At the same sale, another red canvas with five slashes was sold for €4.2m (US$4.94m) with buyer’s premium. This work titled “Concetto spaziale, Attese” (meaning “Spatial Concept, Waiting”) was created by Italian artist Lucio Fontana, the founder of an art movement called “Spatialism”. This painting with five cuts is a manifest the artist’s signature “Spatialism”. Scholars and artists offer different views on how one can understand this painting.

As Fontana slashed the surface of his canvases, he broke the membrane of two-dimensionality in order to highlight the space behind the picture. In this way, he opened up space, created a new dimension for art, tied in with the cosmos as it endlessly expands beyond the confining plane of the picture.

Some scholars think that conventional two-dimension paintings are bounded to be the virtual space lived in the artists’ imagination while the viewers are living in the reality, separating the two by the disjuncture in between. By a simple yet meaningful gesture of cutting canvases, Fontana broke the wall in between. The imaginary world created by the artist is hence released and emerges into the real world.

The above are two of the possible interpretations of this the artist's slashed canvases. On the other hand, some critics offer another point of view by discussing the meaning of the subsequent cuts after the first one.

Fontana's Signature Work

Some argue that though the first cut created a new dimension for art and broke the membrane of two-dimensionality, the following sweeping strokes seemed redundant as they could not bring the same impact as the first cut had already done.


Lucio Fontana (1899-1968). Concetto spaziale, Attese.

Lot no.: 24B
Size: 50 x 65cm

  • Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, Rome
  • Galerie Pierre, Stockholm
  • Collection privée, Stockholm
  • Vente anonyme, Bukowskis, Stockholm, 24 avril 1997, lot 139
  • Galerie Boulakia, Paris
  • Acquis auprès de celle-ci en 1998

Estimate: €2,000,000 - 3,000,000
Hammer price: €3,600,000
Price realized: €4,207,500

Yves Klein (1928-1962). Monochrome bleu sans titre, (IKB 163).

Lot no.: 10B
Size: 60 x 47.8cm

  • Collection Frank Stella, États-Unis (don de l'artiste)
  • Vente L'Art pour La Vie: œuvres du XXè siècle au profit de la Fondation Claude Pompidou, Cornette de Saint-Cyr, Paris, 26 mai 1998, lot 115
  • Acquis lors de cette vente

Estimate: €2,200,000 - 2,800,000
Hammer price: €1,800,000
Price realized: €2,167,500


Auction details

Auction house: Christie’s Paris
Sale: Regards Croisés Collection Jean-François & Marie Aline Prat
Sale date: 2017/10/20