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Property from an important Swedish collection to be offered at Sotheby's London
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1965). Waterpaint on canvas, 80.5 by 100cm, est. £5-7 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese, a work that has come to define one of the most radical moments in art history - known to scholars, historians and collectors from myriad reproductions yet never before seen in the flesh - is to be offered in Sotheby’s flagship auction of Contemporary Art in London on 10th February. With its 23 immaculate incisions, this celebrated work marks the zenith of Fontana’s creative output. Selected by the artist as the ‘signature’ work through which he chose to record and document – in a series of celebrated photographs - his own radical break with tradition, it holds a pivotal place in the history of 20th-century art.

Immortalised in a renowned series of twenty photographs taken by the German photographer Harry Shunk at Fontana’s Milanese studio in 1965, Concetto Spaziale, Attese (est £5-7m) is one of the most famous of the artist’s works. One of only a small handful of paintings with which the artist allowed himself to be photographed, it is by far his most frequently reproduced, Shunk’s series of photographs telling, as they do, the critical story of Fontana’s ground-breaking process. Depicting the artist reaching across a pristine expanse of a pure white canvas with his Stanley knife tentatively raised, Shunk’s photographs document one of the most radical gestures in art history: the moment Fontana exchanged the paintbrush for the razor-blade, heralding the end of the flat picture plane.

Having remained in the same private collection since it was acquired by the present owners – the Swedish collectors Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund and Gunnar Hoglund, MDs - from Galerie Pierre, Stockholm in 1966, the acclaimed work will go on public exhibition for the first time in almost half a century at Sotheby’s in New York on 21st January, ahead of its London exhibition starting on 28th January.

Cheyenne Westphal, Co-Head, Contemporary Art Worldwide: “Hidden away from the public eye for almost 50 years, Concetto Spaziale, Attese is one of the most recognisable works of art which has, in spite of its fame, never been seen in the flesh before. Its unveiling at Sotheby’s will be an exceptional moment. We are delighted to be offering this extraordinary collection which showcases the pre-eminent masters of European and American Pop and Abstraction in the post-war decades. It is an honour to be presenting the paintings and sculpture that Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund and Gunnar Hoglund have collected with such connoisseurship and intellectual curiosity.”

“A Perfect Time Capsule”: An Important Swedish Collection
On 10 February, Concetto Spaziale, Attese will be sold alongside a group of 11 further works from the collection of Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund and Gunnar Hoglund, by Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, James Rosenquist, John Chamberlain, Claes Oldenburg, Christo, Arman and Joel Shapiro.

A perfect time capsule, the works have barely been exhibited in public since their creation, in some cases for nearly 50 years. Together estimated at £6.8–9.7 million, the 12 artworks were all acquired either through direct links with the artists, or via some of the era’s most renowned galleries; Leo Castelli and Sidney Janis Galleries in New York, Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris; and influential galleries in Stockholm such as Galerie Pierre and Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet.

Anchored to a decade that witnessed a total revolution in fine art practice and museology – the 1960s – this remarkable group pays tribute not only to a sensational era for contemporary art, but also celebrates the farreaching and far-sighted curatorial accomplishment of the collectors.

Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund and Gunnar Hoglund, MDs
Having first started collecting together as students, Swedish couple Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund and Gunnar Hoglund, MDs, together built up one of Europe’s great contemporary art collections. Their first major acquisition, a Picasso ink and wash drawing, La danseuse sur la table, was made in 1960. The second followed three years later with the acquisition of the Rauschenberg in Paris in 1963.

During the late 1950s Stockholm had become a real centre for contemporary art, with a great affiliation existing between the US art scene and Sweden, with the collector’s at its very heart. As leading galleries in Stockholm exhibited entirely fresh works sourced via strong relationships with dealers and artist’s studios in America, the collector’s travelled extensively in Europe and the US forging relationships with pre-eminent gallerists and artists. They met with Leo Castelli and Andy Warhol in New York in the 1970s, and struck-up acquaintances with Cy Twombly in Rome and Lucio Fontana in Milan.

Among the former works from the collection that have since been donated or sold are Cy Twombly’s Roman Notes and Untitled Bolzena, and an Olii by Lucio Fontana, Untitled, all of which have been donated to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, while the funds acquired from Sotheby’s 2007 sale of Andy Warhol’s Flowers were allocated to the museum for the acquisition of works by female artists. Having both sustained long-standing ties with the Moderna Museet – Anna-Stina Malmborg-Hoglund participated in the Board of the Museum Friends for 18 years and served as Chairman for 12 years – the collectors continue to act as donors.

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