Italian artist, designer and sculptor
Fausto Melotti (born June 8, 1901, Rovereto, Italy–died June 22, 1986, Milan) was a seminal Italian post-war ceramicist, sculptor, painter, and poet. He was born in Rovereto, a city of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. He studied physics and mathematics at the University of Pisa and continued his education at Politecnico di Milano, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering in 1924. As he was graduating, and unsatisfied with a technical degree, Melotti attended the Casa d’Arte of Fortunato De Pero, in Rovereto, to study piano and sculpture from Pietro Canonica. In 1928, he enrolled to study sculpture at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, under the guidance of the sculptor Adolfo Wildt, where he met and established a strong friendship with artist Lucio Fontana. In 1929, he started his 20-year long collaboration at Richard-Ginori’s ceramic shop and realized numerous ceramics designed by its then artistic director and life-long friend Gio Ponti. read more
In 1935, Fausto Melotti joined Abstraction-Création movement which championed the work of non-figurative artists, and had his first solo exhibition as an artist at the Milan Galleria del Milione, which consisted of several abstract sculptures. This exhibition brought him great attention in France and Switzerland, but not in Milan. That same year, he participated in the VI Triennale di Milano (Milan Triennial) with 12 sculptures in an installation for the Sala della Coerenza, designed by the Studio BBPR (Banfi, Belgiojoso, Peressuti, Rogers).
During most of World War II Melotti lived in Rome, but after a bomb raid in Milan in 1943, he discovered that his studio had been destroyed. It is then that Melotti decided to install a muffle klin in his Milan studio, and initiated a 15-year prolific period creating ceramics and terra-cotta sculptures using a more expressive language, and moving away from pure abstraction. During the late 1940s, Melotti further developed his characteristic refined technique, and became highly successful. In 1944, he created his first Teatrini, highly expressive and seemingly fragile brass-and-stainless-steel sculptures combining abstract and figurative language that represent miniature “theaters,” a format and theme that he would continue to explore for many years in parallel to his ceramic sculptures.
He was awarded the Grand Prix at the IX Triennale di Milano in 1951 and the gold medals in Munich and Prague. Around this time is when he re-started his professional collaboration with Gio Ponti, with whom he worked on two large projects for the Villa Planchart in Caracas (1956) and the Villa Nemazee in Teheran (1960). In 1967, he gained further fame when he exhibited highly stylized and thinly formed ceramic sculptures at the Galleria Toninelli in Milan, which ignited a period of frequent exhibitions in Italy and abroad. By this time, Melotti was already recognized as a pivotal figure in modern and contemporary sculpture by critics and artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, and Alexander Calder, among others.
In 1974, Melotti published his book Linee, which included many of his writings and poems and awarded him the Diano Marina Prize in 1975. In 1979, he participated in an anthological exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, and in 1981, he participated in a similar exhibition at Forte di Belvedere in Florence. Melotti died June 22, 1986 and the same year the 42nd Venice Biennale awarded him the Golden Lion.
Last updated: May 23, 2019
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