“Sometimes dimensions are enough to make people believe that a small work is a great work”
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.
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 on 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.
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Last updated: October 22, 2019
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Important museum and other Institutional solo exhibitions since his death
- Consulate General of Italy in New York. Fausto Melotti: Works from the Olnick Spanu Collection. New York, NY.January – March 2019
- Estorick Collection. Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint. London, U.K.
- Fondazione Tito Balestra Onlus – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Castello Malatestiano di Longiano. Fausto Melotti e Roma 1937 – 1985. Longiano. Italy.
- Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. Fausto Melotti. Monaco.
- Museo d’Arte. Klee – Melotti. Lugano, Switzerland.
- Madre Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. Melotti. Napoli, Italy.
- Kunstmuseum Winterthur. Fausto Melotti – Akrobat der Moderne. Winterthur, Germany.
- Kunsthalle Mannheim. Fausto Melotti Akrobat der Moderne. Mannheim, Germany.
- Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi. Fausto Melotti graphikós. Florence, Italy.
- Italian Cultural Institute. Fausto Melotti I Viaggi: la Fantasia non ha confini. New York, NY.
- Waddington Galleries. Fausto Melotti Sculptures and Works on Paper from 1955 to 1983. London, U.K.
- Mart – Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto. Fausto Melotti. L’opera in ceramica. Rovereto, Italy.
- Musée Picasso. Fausto Melotti. L’art du contrepoint. Antibes. France.
- Compagnia di Belle Arti. Fausto Melotti…ma l’arte è un viaggio. Milan, Italy.
- Musée Nicolas Sursock. Fausto Melotti Sculptures – Peintures – Plâtres – Céramiques – Incisions. Beirut, Lebanon.
- Museo della Permanente. Scultura. Milan. Italy.
- Turkish and Islamic Art Museum. Fausto Melotti. Opere 1950–1984 Sculture–Dipinti–Gessi–Ceramiche–Incisioni. Istanbul, Turkey.
- Museo del Centro Arredo Cantù. Melotti e la scuola di Cantù. Cantù, Italy.
- Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art. Fausto Melotti 1901 – 1986. Nagoya, Japan.
- Pinacoteca Civica. Fausto Melotti. Teatrini 1931–1985. Como, Italy.
- Archivio del ‘900. Melotti nella collezione del Mart. Rovereto, Italy.
- Whanki Museum/Nine Gallery. Fausto Melotti. Seoul, South Korea.
- Forni Scultura. Fausto Melotti. Opere 1944 – 1986. Sculture, bassorilievi e carte. Bologna, Italy.
- IVAM Centre Julio Gonzàlez. Fausto Melotti. Valencia, Spain.
- Istituto d’Arte Fortunato Depero. Fausto Melotti. L’opera incisa. Rovereto, Italy.
- Museo Cantonale d’Arte. Fausto Melotti. Opere 1934–1984, Lugano, Italy.
- Palazzo Fortuny. Fausto Melotti. Venice, Italy
- Galleria Civica Palazzo Todeschini. Melotti. Sculture e disegni. Desenzano del Garda, Italy.
- Pinacoteca Comunale Galleria d’Arte Moderna Marco Moretti and Chiesa di Sant’Agostino.Fausto Melotti alla stamperia Sciardelli. Civitanova Marche, Italy.
Catalogue Hoser & Wirth
Cologne, Germany (2016)
Fausto Melotti. Trappolando
Barbara Casavecchia, Valerie Da Costa (et al)
Fausto Melotti. L’incertezza
Nouveau Musée National de Monaco – Mousse Publishing
Fausto Melotti. Opere su carta
Alessandria, Italy (2014)
Galerie Karsten Greve
Il mondo di Fausto Melotti
Fausto Melotti, Paul Klee, Paolo Repetto, Dieter Schwarz
Paul Klee and Fausto Melotti: Eine Blume Tritt Auf
Beck and Eggeling
Düsseldorf, Germany (2011)
Simona Ciuccio, Nina Gülicher, Ulrike Lorenz, Stefanie Müller, & Dieter Schwarz
Fausto Melotti: Akrobat der Moderne
Düsseldorf, Germany (2010)
Fausto Melotti: L’angelo Necessario
Acqui Terme, Alessandria, Italy (2010)
Fausto Melotti. Disegni e ceramiche. Opere dal 1927 al 1985. Matite, tempere, ceramiche, gessi e terracotta
Edizioni La Scaletta
Polo d’Enza, Italy (2009)
Fausto Melotti – Consonanze con Castellani, Fabro e Paollini
CAMEC – Centro Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
Pistoia, Italy (2006)
Fausto; Antonella Commellato and Marta Melotti (editors)
Fausto Melotti: L’OPERA in CERAMICA (Fusto Melotti: the Work in Ceramics