Lucio Fontana, Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) (1957)

The Stations of the Cross by Lucio Fontana were originally created for the chapel of the all-girl boarding school ‘Le Carline’ in Milan. Following a refurbishment of the institute in the 1980s, the artwork was acquired by San Fedele Church on the advice of father Eugenio Bruno and art critic Giorgio Mascherpa in 1986.
The re-housing of this work in the Jesuits’ own church was the last chapter in the long collaboration between the artist – close friend of father Arcangelo Favaro, the founder of Centro Culturale San Fedele – and the Society of Jesus in Milan (see also the Guastalla Chapel, where Fontana’s large altarpiece in glazed and polished ceramic The Sacred Heart of Jesus, created in 1957 for the church, is found).
Of the three Stations of the Cross works by Fontana, this is the only terracotta one without a glazed finish: touches of colour are applied raw to details of the scenes in the small medallions, which are carved with deep strokes of the naked hand and sculpting tool, giving them a fresh and exuberant plasticity.
According to Mascherpa, in this work Fontana’s ‘incredible plasticity’ reaches ‘unparalleled heights’, while the presence of an ascending or sloping line in each of the medallions sets the dynamics for each scene, like ‘crescendo’ or ‘diminuendo’ notations in a music composition.
The 14 Stations: I. Jesus is condemned to death; II. Jesus is made to carry his cross; III. Jesus falls the first time; IV. Jesus meets his mother; V. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross; VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus; VII. Jesus falls the second time; VIII. The women of Jerusalem weep over Jesus; IX Jesus falls the third time; X. Jesus is stripped of his garments; XI. Jesus is nailed to the cross; XII. Jesus dies on the cross; XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross; XIV. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
25 Fontana Via Crucis