and out. I think it would be possible to create a fine and striking light effect. The title could be Concetto spaziale, Il tempo e lo spazio (Spatial Concept, Time and Space).29
29 In Campiglio, op. cit., p. 189. 30 For a specific and detailed analysis of this work by Fontana, cfr. Luca Massimo Barbero, Lucio Fontana per Italia 61: “Fonti di energia”, in Luca Massimo Barbero (ed.), Torino sperimentale 1959 — 1969. Una storia della cronaca. Il sistema delle arti come avanguardia, Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin, 2010, pp. 187-212. 31 Signed by Fontana, G. Kaisserlian, B. Joppolo, M. Milani, reproduced in E. Crispolti & R. Siligato (ed.), Lucio Fontana, exh. cat., 1998, pp. 117-18).
Fontana had theorised about the possibility of a fusion of space and time as far back as 1946, in the spatial formulations of his 1946 Manifiesto Blanco. In the hour-glass structure of this work (an image of time running through space), he extended the idea by projecting light in the form of a pulsating body. This was in keeping with the idea of experiencing total immersion in light which Fontana had already explored in his pioneering — indeed “immaterial” — experimental images for television in 1952, and had translated into extraordinarily multiplied and expansive lines in the exceptional installation comprising seven levels of neon lights created for “Italia 61” in Turin in 1961.30 In this essay, intentionally combining theoretical analysis and historical reconstruction, I have sought to provide new material and food for thought, which I hope will lead to further research. Such research might be comparative, reconstructing the relationships between the artists referred to here and their mutual influences, or it might lead to deeper understanding of their individual careers by examining their parallel positions. The personal and poetic freedom that characterised Verheyen’s relations with his Italian colleagues, particularly Fontana and Manzoni, may in a way be seen as representative of that of a whole generation of European artists. Intense experience of real, ongoing transnational dialogue was possible for the first time, quickly establishing a pattern of varied stimuli. From this point of view, we might perhaps recognise in the work of Verheyen an ideal synthesis of the great Flemish tradition of brilliant but cold light effects and the intensely corporeal light and warmth of the Italian Renaissance which, in the late 1950s, was preparing to take possession of the real space of the world, moving towards the luminous — and mysterious — space of a now boundless cosmos, beyond the history of human imagery: “Art is eternal, but it cannot be immortal,” the First Manifesto of Spatialism declared, explaining that, “it doesn’t matter to us if a gesture, once accomplished, lives for a second or a millennium, for we are convinced that, having accomplished it, it is eternal.”31
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen