Here, it is the acquisition of the world’s dynamism in the absolute of the white body that confirms its essence. This is paralleled by the vision of Castellani, who, in Continuità e nuovo, speaks of a “concreteness of infinity” which can emerge only from a physical relationship with the iteration of the generative element of the image as a tangible entity. In both operational and theoretical terms, these are somewhat eccentric positions to put forward in a European context, where the point of reference was still the pictorial dimension: a dimension which Verheyen himself was to resolve in a different and more evocative direction, in a sort of chromatic pantheism which receives spatial and light-related stimuli in a quite different way, leading to an explosion of flows of light and cathedrals of light, which, in their very titles, bespeak his particular vocation and frame of reference. Excavating space The Leverkusen exhibition also confirmed Fontana’s pioneering role in the new European school, while he himself, in a way typical of the man, was again developing in an unexpected direction. On 5 October 1960, he wrote to Verheyen from Milan: I worked hard at Albisola this summer, making nearly thirty very large terracotta balls with large incisions and holes in them. I’m very pleased. This is nothingness! The death of matter, the pure philosophy of life.19
The new cycle he was referring to was that of his nature, shown for the first time in the “Dalla natura all’arte” exhibition at the Centro Internazionale delle Arti e del Costume, Palazzo Grassi, Venice, in the summer of 1960. For Fontana, the nature represented a new way of excavating space, superseding the synthetic colour of his inchiostri, then his tagli. They were his way of sinking back magmatically into matter and thus maintaining the dialectic, so typical of his approach, between close-up penetration and cosmic expansiveness, turning every creative action into a new irradiating and polysemic centre. This emerges from another letter to Verheyen, written a few months later, with reference to the nature: 19 In Campiglio, op. cit., pp. 179-180.
monography of the works of Jef Verheyen