Abstract sculptures of ’35 and’62 by Fausto Melotti

Tomorrow at NMNM – Nouveau Musée National de Monaco will be inaugurated the exhibition “Fausto Melotti”, devoted to a crucial period of the artist’s career in which Domus played a special role, as stated in the 1962 essay that we present anew here.

The exhibition Fausto Melotti at the NMNM examines the crucial period from the temporary abandonment of abstract research after 1935 until the revival of sculpture in the early 1960s. The time frame that the exhibition takes in coincides with the path that brought Melotti to make big sculptures, as if wanting to show them, to compete again with the criticism which had also ignored his first strong demonstration of autonomy in proposing geometrical abstraction imbued with lyricism and musical rhythm. Domus seems to play a special role in his career as an attentive and sensitive spectator, aware of changes taking place in the studio with the kiln in Via Leopardi 9, where Gio Ponti and his daughter Lisa often went. The articles in the magazine were followed by reporting on his work as decorator with Ponti and other architects, but also dedicating space to papers and panels, stressing the continuity with abstract sculpture (he has changed neither the world nor the methods). Until the publication of the texts that precede the decisive return to sculpture, in two essays written by him in 1962 and 1963. Eva Fabbris



Of the two above-mentioned essays, we propose the first below, and you will find the second one in Domus’ July / August issue.

Fausto Melotti, Scultura n°14, 1935 (1968) Inox, Ed. 2/3, 100 x 35 x 28 cm. Private collection, London. Photo: Fondazione Fausto Melotti © Archivio Fausto Melotti

Originally published in Domus 392/1962


They are still called the figurative arts, but the beauty of reality is long gone. Apart from a few wizened masters, no great artist today worthy of representing our delirious age will place a canvas or a trestle in front of reality. On occasion, we do indeed hold the figurative world on a string and, like children, pull it along behind us, or we give a title from nature to some graphic brainwave. But these are expedients. On the other hand,
Dada and neo-Dada, ethereal will-o’-thewisps, share a common axiom: the plastic arts do not descend from drawing. As perturbing as mirages, they appear and then are gone. And then Tàpies discovers the world of plaster, and lumps and cracks, with the vision of a sensitive spider –  dramatic insects with the eyes of Tobey and Pollock. Other paths open up in clearings filled with restless agitation. Guarding each route, artists with clearly set ways and confines demand a toll. With the licence of critics and dealers, and thus assisted in their references and classifications, they repeat the accepted dogma until kingdom come, so as not to betray themselves.

Left: Fausto Melotti, La decorazione, 1939-1940. Chalk, 103x44x42 cm. Right: Fausto Melotti, La pittura, 1939-1940. Chalk, 103x52x43 cm. Collezione Melotti, Milano. Photo: Fondazione Fausto Melotti © Archivio Fausto Melotti
The vagabonds of uncertain paths are quite another matter. Potentially immune to classification and always unpredictable, they shift towards the mires of craftsmanship, where a new seed may yet be concealed.
Authentic artists. Dubuffet, Fontana.
Left: Fausto Melotti, Reti, 1961. Tin, 101 x 37 x 16 cm. Private Collection, Torino. Right: Fausto Melotti, Omaggio a Scheiwiller, 1962. Tin, 103 x 50 x 20 cm. Private collection, Milano. Photo: Fondazione Fausto Melotti © Archivio Fausto Melotti

We should surely be able to justify these restless interludes, this disquieted incoherence that may appear immoral. The paradigm of this certainty-uncertainty) is Picasso. From morn to eve we are intent on the countless disguises in which art relives, and this delirium recalls the dying man who, in his final instant, sees the events of his own life in a thousand mirrors. So it is that this licence no longer appears to us as such, but simply as a tragic, unwitting warning against the forthcoming catharsis of this extenuating civilisation of ours. And apparent incoherence finds justification in a pained, morally absolved “condition”.

Fausto Melotti

July 09 2015 – January 17 2016
Fausto Melotti
curated by Eva Fabbris and Cristiano Raimondi
NMNM – Villa Paloma

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