The aim of the exhibition is to compare the three versions of the Stations of the Cross executed by Lucio Fontana in the space of a decade (1947-1957) which proved to be crucial in terms of the artist's artistic maturity.
For the first time, the three Stations of the Cross, normally considered individually, are being exhibited together. In addition to the Stations of the Cross (1947) that is now part of a private collection, the exhibition includes the ‘white’ Stations of the Cross (1955-57), on public display for the first time, while the work from the Cappella delle Suore Carline (1956-57) can only be seen in the crypt of the Church of San Fedele in Milan. The three versions of the Stations of the Cross are the outward expression of two fundamental moments in the artist’s work. The first was executed in 1947, the year in which Fontana returned to Italy from Argentina. Back in Italy, the artist continued his large-scale production of works in ceramics, on which he concentrated over the three-year period 1935-38. In 1947, also the year of the First Manifesto of Spatialism, a fundamental document in which the artist championed a completely new concept of art, agreeing largely with progress in the field of science. Moreover, in chronological terms, this first ‘Via Crucis’ was executed just before his first spatial environment, the famous Ambiente nero (Black Environment), created by Fontana at the Naviglio Gallery in the first months of 1949. The Stations of the Cross now kept at San Fedele and the so-called ‘white’ Stations of the Cross, on the other hand, can both be traced to the period 1955-1957 and the fruitful collaboration between the artist and the architect Marco Zanuso, who were involved in a number of projects in Milan which had social aims and were intended to show solidarity. In fact, the Stations of the Cross at San Fedele was created for the chapel of the convent of the Suore Carline, which provided support for young women who had been abandoned, whereas the ‘white’ Stations of the Cross was made for the Ada Bolchini dell’Acqua Nursery School, set up to provide assistance for young mothers and children in difficulty. Both these versions of the Stations of the Cross were created at a time of great invention and experimentation in the life of the artist, both in terms of the ‘religious’ nature of the work and in terms of its ‘conceptual’ significance. A comparison of the three works, therefore, shows that Fontana’s sculpture gradually matured towards forms that were increasingly inspired by conceptual criteria.