Lothar Wolleh was a German photographer.
Berlin, Germany 1930 - 1979 London, England.

Numerous Portraits

‘Al Amigo Lothar’- Lucio Fontana and Lothar Wolleh

Lucio Fontana
  • Author Antoon Melissen
  • Date 1963

Lothar Wolleh first met Lucio Fontana in 1963, in Milan. Wolleh’s esteem for the ‘old master’ among artists from ZERO circles resonates in the opening salutation of his letters –‘Grande Maestro’– as well as in numerous portraits, photographs of the Milanese studio, of the artist at work and of individual artworks.

Lucio Fontana

It is a rare booklet from 1966, a catalogue on Lucio Fontana, issued by Alexandre Iolas, a gallery with branches in New York, Paris and Geneva. The frontispiece of the catalogue shows Lucio Fontana in the courtyard of his Milanese studio, photographed by Lothar Wolleh in 1965. And it is the personal dedication in this catalogue that demonstrates the close connection between the two artists: ‘Al amigo Lothar, Lucio Fontana, Milan 19-4-1966’.

Lucio Fontana
Lucio Fontana

Argentinian-Italian artist Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) burst onto the German art scene in 1960, with an inaugural exhibition at the renowned Düsseldorf-based Galerie Schmela. Two years later, a retrospective exhibition in the nearby city of Leverkusen established Fontana’s indisputable status as the éminence grise of the international ZERO movement (1958-1966). Fontana laid the foundation for a new understanding of artistic practice and art, beyond the demarcations of the flat surface.

Lucio Fontana

Lothar Wolleh and Lucio Fontana got to know each other in 1963, through Wolleh’s close friendship with German ZERO artist Günther Uecker (b. 1930) and American artist-curator Willoughby Sharp (1936-2008). During the years 1963-1967, Wolleh visited Fontana’s Milanese studio 15 to 20 times. Of special significance is a collaborative project between the two artists. In 1967, Fontana provided 15 to 20 of Wolleh’s photographs with a signature as well as a taglie, his characteristic razor-sharp cut. The project bears witness to an intensive exchange in the relatively short period of only three years and, moreover, to their shared artistic views.

Intensive exchange

The friendship between Fontana and Wolleh was crowned in 1966-1967 with a collaborative executed multiple, in an edition of 15 copies. Four analog gelatin silver prints by Lothar Wolleh were combined with two works by Lucio Fontana: a three-layered socalled Teatrino and a Concetto spaziale in aluminium with Fontana's ‚buchi‘, his trademark perforations. These objects are housed in a black wooden cassette, under a perspex plate – once more signed by Fontana. It was an edition that found it’s way to their mutual friends and colleagues from the ZERO-network, among them Adolf Luther, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene.

Photo portrait Lucio Fontana in the case of the edition
Portait with Teatrino with signed perspex plate "L. Fontana"