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Final Cut: At Gagosian, Lucio Fontana, Beyond the Slash

Fontana's 1951 environment for the Milan Triennale. (© Fondazione Lucio Fontana. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery)

On Monday morning, Italian curator Germano Celant, a compact man with a mane of white hair, was using a flashlight to navigate a series of cavernous spaces in the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street, which he and a team of assistants were gradually transforming into “environments,” ethereal, room-filling installations by the late Italian artist Lucio Fontana.

“This is a very small environment that I saw him do in Genoa, my town,” he said, gesturing around a narrow passageway blocked off by a black curtain. The space inside was dark, and eerily sublime, containing just a few dabs of fluorescent paint lit with a black light. The piece was originally made in 1967, the year before Fontana died at age 69. “It was in a shop,” Mr. Celant recalled. “On the beach.” Read More