The evolution of Lucio Fontana's painting materials

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gottschaller, Pia; Khandekar, Narayan; Lee, Lynn F.; Kirby, Daniel P.;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 57, Number 2, p.76-91 (2012)


The study focuses on the range of pigments and media that the Italian artist Lucio Fontana (1899‐1968) employed for selected works dating between 1949 and 1968. Samples were taken from ten groups of works, all on canvas support, as well as from painting equipment that survived in the artist's former two studios. Techniques of analysis used were pyrolysis-gas chromatography‐mass spectrometry for media identification, and laser desorption ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry and Raman microspectroscopy for pigment identification. Fontana's reputation as a daring and experimental artist, best known for his group of slashed paintings called tagli, is seen to correspond with certain unusual material choices he made. The study also points to several links that exist between seemingly unrelated cycles. These links are, among others, based on experiences with in part novel media such as oil, alkyd, polyvinyl acetate, acrylic, acrylic‐vinyl, and mixtures of them. With regard to pigments, the selection of samples showed that they were mostly of a synthetic organic nature.