If Jack the Ripper Had Made Art
We tend to know one thing about Lucio Fontana, the pioneer of post-war Italian abstraction: He broke through the fetish of the pristine rectangular canvas, art's ideal neutral support, by slicing into it with a knife. A huge Fontana retrospective at Gagosian Gallery in New York – the subject of this whole week of Daily Pics – shows that there's much, much more we need to know. For instance, that the slicing wasn't always done with the razor-sharp, James Bond elegance we imagine. Today's Daily Pic, titled "Concetto Spaziale, New York 10," from 1962, has a Jack the Ripper visciousness. Fontana takes his knife to large sheets of resistant copper, and the result evokes can-openers more than scalpels. And by cutting into polished metal rather than canvas, Fontana's gesture seems to pull him back all the way to the gold grounds of medieval icons. His gesture is so bold it has a whiff of sacrilege, not just of art-world rebellion.
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