The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) presents Fausto Melotti, an exhibition dedicated to the polymorphous and multi-faceted work of one of Italy’s greatest artists of the interwar and postwar periods. It brings together about 20 metallic sculptures and more than 70 ceramic pieces.
Graduating initially in electrotechnic engineering in 1924, Melotti continued his studies at the Brera Academy from 1928 until 1929 under the distinguished sculptor Adolfo Wildt, together with his future friend Lucio Fontana.
The research gathered by the curators began by the observation of the nodal nature in the relationship between Melotti and the magazine Domus, founded in 1928 by Gio Ponti. Accordingly the exhibition includes primarily works whose photographs were published in Domus between 1948 and 1968, alongside articles about the artist, as well as those written by Melotti himself.
The magazine Domus seems to play a special role in the artist’s career, that of an attentive and sensitive spectator aware of the changes occurring in Melotti’s Milanese kiln-equipped studio in Via Leopardi 26, where Gio Ponti often went with his daughter Lisa Ponti. The key phases of this chronicling process are clearly perceivable in the succession of articles on, and by, Melotti, appearing in the magazine from 1948 onwards.
It is important to notice that the critical perspective developed in the magazine was based on an idea of poetic continuity that is confirmed by the presence of images of Melotti’s works from different periods in each article; hence the exhibition does not follow a chronological order.
The articles in Domus were enhanced by coverage of his work as a decorator together with Ponti and other architects, as well as by features on his ceramic sculptures dating from the ’40s and ’50s (such as his Teatrini and ceramic plaques) up until his novel metal sculptures of the ’60s—always stressing the continuity of his recurring early abstract practice.
In July 1962 Domus published an article by Melotti, in which his poetic language alludes to the apparent silence as an artist, following his short and decisive abstract period in the mid-1930s: “We approach and return […] to the many interludes (acts of life?), to the Orphic, Mediterranean, hymenaios of geometry with poetry.”
Nearly a year later, another text by Melotti will appear in the pages of Domus; regarded as one of his most programmatic texts, L’Incertezza (Uncertainty), March 1963, serves as a comprehensive manifest of Melotti’s poetics, allowing the artist to validate the originality of his work within the context of his contemporaries.
Together with Domus, Ugo Mulas—displayed throughout an array of his photographs of Melotti’s work—plays a crucial part in the exhibition, best delineated by the critic and publisher Vanni Schweiwiller, who, writing on the relationship between Mulas and Melotti observed that: “Melotti became attached to Ugo Mulas, who was his photographer […] And the passion and excellence of a great photographer like Ugo Mulas contributed significantly to the rediscovery, albeit late, of a great sculptor like Melotti.
The catalogue of the exhibition will be published in the fall of 2015 by the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. The book will be bilingual, French ang English, and illustrated by a large selection of archval documents, some of which never seen before. It will include an essay by Valérie Da Costa focasing on Fausto Melotti’s ceramics, a text by Eva Fabbris dedicated to the presence of articles about and by Fausto Melotti in Domus as of 1948, a text by Cristiano Raimondi about the collaboration between Gio Ponti and Fausto Melotti for Villa Planchart in Caracas, a conversation between Simone Menegoi, Melina and Valentina Mulas, a conversation betwenn Barbara Casavecchia, Allesandro Pessoli and Paul Sietsema as well as a conversation between Francesco Garutti, Valters Scelsi and the members of the architecture studio baukuh.
Curators: Eva Fabbris and Cristiano Raimondi
Exhibition design: baukuh and Valter Scelsi
With the support of Van Cleef & Arpels