Selected Interview/Excerpts: Lucio Fontana
His last interview;
With, Tommaso Trini
July 19, 1968
One and a half months before his death (edited from: Studio International 1972).
You see, unfortunately I am an explorer. Today the young are going through a period of both crisis and evolution. We on the other hand lived during a period of fruitful exploration, because we had behind us some considerable artists.
You must be aware of De Chirico, Sironi, Campigli and Morandi who brought new life to painting.
My experiments took a new direction with the Spatial Manifesto of 1946 in which I said, “We carry forward the evolution of art through the medium.”
That summarizes it in a formula. It would have been enough to leave it at that, because to say through the medium is to say that today art can be made with plastic or light. It was just the feeling that art was no longer to be thought of in terms of brushes and painting and restricted to canvases and frescoes.
It was a warning that art had changed direction and dimension. I mean dimension in the sense of profundity. Of course the Manifesto is now probably out of date, but it still retains some relevance. We said, we will use television to transmit forms through space. I think that that is still valid, because television remains an unsophisticated medium.
So, if any of my discoveries are important, the hole is. By hole I mean going outside the limitations of a picture frame and being free in one’s conception of art. A formula like: 1+1+2. I did not make holes in order to wreck the picture.
On the contrary, I made holes in order to find something else.
They were never understood.
They use to say that I ripped up canvases, destroyed things and wanted to break the rules. But that’s not true.
Once an American in Venice said to me, “you’re the spatialist” but you don’t understand about spaces.
I said, who are you anyway?
Later he got to know me, but he did not ever understand anything about me.
But how can you understand space, we have Arizona. There is space for you! So I said to him, look, if it comes to that, I come from South America and we have the Pampas! Which is twice the size of your Arizona!
I am not interested in the kind of space you are talking about mine is a different dimension.
The hole is this dimension.
I say dimension because I cannot think what other word to use. I make a hole in the canvas in order to leave behind me the old pictorial formulae, the painting and the traditional view of art – and I escape symbolically, but also materially, from the prison of the flat surface.
Yves Klein is the one who understands the problem of space with his blue dimension. He is really abstract, one of the artist who has done something important.
Also important is Piero Manzoni with his lines.
The Americans today still haven’t caught up with Manzoni. Manzoni’s line is still way ahead of them. That is how it is. They will understand it in a hundred years time!
Today young artists have it easy,
But in those days
a man who made holes
he was an idiot,
Manzoni’s line as concept or as social motivation of art has not yet been reached by anybody, because it is infinity!
In art the revolution is social and not just visual. It is a revolution in thought.
The evolution of art is something internal,
and is not a visual phenomenon.
Manzonis’ line is a matter of pure philosophy.
Art is a creation of man and not a material fact like eating and sleeping.
It is a creation which at a given moment can come to an end.
Or be superseded by other sciences.
Art is only thought in evolution – and if human thought should evolve into such dimensions – that art becomes in time superficial, then that is the end of art.
Art may become so superficial that it will be, if not repudiated, at least overtaken.
I did the Manifesto on television. I wanted to have an exhibition simultaneously in New York, Milan, Berlin, the whole world over, to transmit forms.
They did not let us do it.
We wanted to transmit simultaneously all over the world a statement, some kind of gesture, to demonstrate that the whole world was simultaneously aware of a single thought.
Television did not understand, they rejected our idea. Only the Manifesto remains.
Will there always be artists? But of course, there will always be the unemployed.
Let’s not be romantic…In 500 years time people will not talk of art, they will talk of there problems and art will be like going to see a curiosity – like the two rocks put together by the first caveman.
What were they up to? Why did they cover walls with pictures? Today man is on earth and these are all things that man has done while on earth, but do you think man will have time to produce art while traveling through the universe?
He will travel through space and discover marvelous things, things so beautiful that things here – like art, will seem worthless.
Today’s young people too are still tied to the earth. Man must free himself completely from the earth, only then will the direction that he will take in the future become clear.
I believe in man’s intelligence – it is the only thing in which I believe, more so than in God, for me God is man’s intelligence – I am convinced that the man of the future will have a completely new world.
(edited from: Studio International 1972)