Lucio Fontana’s ‘hot lava’ ceramics, through the eyes of Sterling Ruby

The late Italian painter and sculptor, chiefly known for his dramatic “slash series,” also created an equally beautiful body of sculptural work. Artist Sterling Ruby selects his favorites for Document's Spring/Summer 2013 issue.

Ceramics is one of the oldest forms of art in human history. The availability of the material, its durability and versatility continues to fascinate artists. For this issue of Document, we asked American artist Sterling Ruby to select a series of ceramic works by Lucio Fontana. Known for his strong sculptures and incredibly powerful installations, Ruby works extensively with ceramics and creates vivid, sharp shapes inspired by the California Craft Movement and German “hot lava” vessels from the ’70s. His enthusiastic approach to this material produces some of the most interesting pieces in the genre today.

Known for his monochromatic razor-cut paintings, Fontana was also a fervent ceramist, focusing on the art form in the later part of his life, after WWII, when he returned to Europe from Argentina. In this phase, the manipulation of the ceramic keeps its organic vitality, but also introduces new theoretic elements that we can find in his manifesto about space, architecture and paint- ing. Realized shortly after the war, these works also express the pain and the violence of the conflict. Both Ruby and Fontana have this unique talent of combining the spontaneity of the process with an incredible sophistication. Looking at works of Fontana through the Ruby’s eyes is a new way to review the modernity of the late artist’s oeuvre