Lucio Fontana Spatial Concept: Expectation 1960

  • MoMA, Floor 4, 405 The David Geffen Galleries

“Sculpture and painting are both things of the past,” argued Fontana. “We need a new form. Art that’s movement. Art within space.” While living in Buenos Aires between 1940 and 1947, Fontana consorted with many Argentine Concrete artists, such as the Madí group. Inspired by their defiant attitude toward the tradition of painting, he began slashing his canvases in 1949. This iconoclastic gesture destroyed painting as a receptacle of illusions and left viewers contemplating a real cut, which Fontana described as “the beginning of a sculpture in space.”

Gallery label from Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift, October 21, 2019–March 14, 2020
Additional text

By slashing the center of his canvases, Fontana allowed three–dimensional space to intrude into an otherwise two–dimensional surface. Fontana first introduced perforations within his works in 1949 and referred to these as “spatial concepts.” He then began slashing his canvases in the early 1950s and added the term “Expectations” to the title. While these works immediately conjure acts of violence and iconoclasm, Fontana claimed “I have constructed, not destroyed.”

Gallery label from 2006.
Slashed canvas and gauze
39 1/2 x 31 5/8" (100.3 x 80.3 cm)
Gift of Philip Johnson
Object number
© 2024 Fondation Lucio Fontana
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

We have identified these works in the following photos from our exhibition history.

How we identified these works

In 2018–19, MoMA collaborated with Google Arts & Culture Lab on a project using machine learning to identify artworks in installation photos. That project has concluded, and works are now being identified by MoMA staff.

If you notice an error, please contact us at [email protected].


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].