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In 1959, Fontana began to cut the canvas, with dramatic perfection. These cuts (or tagli) were carefully pre-meditated but executed in an instant. Like the holes in some of his other canvases, they have the effect of drawing the viewer into space. In some, however, the punctures erupt from the surface carrying the force of the gesture towards the viewer in a way that is at once energetic and threatening. Although these actions have often been seen as violent, Fontana claimed ‘I have constructed, not destroyed.’

April 2009