Fausto Melotti

(1901  in Rovereto, Venezuela – 1986 in Milan, Italy) 

Fausto Melotti was born in Rovereto (Trento) on the 8th of June 1901. In 1918, he enrolled in the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Pisa, a degrre that he completed at the Politecnico in Milan, where he graduated in Electrotechnical Engineering in 1924. During this period, he studied piano and attended courses of sculpture held by the sculptor Pietro Canonica in Turin. In 1928, he started studying at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, where he was the pupil of Adolfo Wildt together with Lucio Fontana, with whom he formed a long friendship. In 1932, he agreed to give a course in modern plastic arts at the Scuola artigianale in Cantù.

In 1935, Fausto Melotti’s cousin Carlo Belli published Kn, a text described by Kandinsky as being “the Gospel of abstract art”. The text aimed to account the theoretical development of the experimentation undertaken by the abstract artists. That same year, Melotti joined the Parisian movement Abstraction-Création. Melotti exhibited his work with other Milanese artists at the first group show of abstract art in the studio of Casorati and Paolucci in Turin. Later, he also held a solo show in the Galleria del Milione in Milan where he exposed sculptures of contrapuntal inspiration. Melotti encapsulated a sort of “musical abstraction” in the field of the figurative arts: “Slowly music has ensnared me, disciplining me with its laws, distractions and digressions in a balanced discourse”.

For the 6th Triennale of Milan, he created his masterpiece the Constant Man which is formed by twelve sculptures, set at regular intervals. It is a work in which colour, words and planes are harmonized in an environmental installation.

Between 1941 and 1943, he lived in Rome where he participated in the Figini and Pollini project for the Palazzo delle Forze Armate. Meanwhile, he produced drawings, paintings and poems that were together published under the name Il Triste Minotauro by Giovanni Schweiller in 1944. After WWII, he turned his attention to ceramics and developed a refined technique of extremely high quality for which he will be awarded the Grand Prix at the 1951’s Triennale, and gold medals in Prague and Munich. During these years, he established a strong professional and personal relationship 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 exhibited several newly inspired sculptures at the Galleria Toninelli in Milan. This exhibition was just the starting point of a series of exhibitions he will held both in Italy and abroad. Showing his work all over the world provided him notoriousness and public awareness of his multifaceted art which includes sculptures, low reliefs, theatre sculptures, ceramics and works on paper.

In 1979, a solo anthological exhibition was held at the Palazzo Reale in Milan and two years later, in Florence, an exhibition was staged at the Forte Belvedere. It was at the time of the Florence exhibition that Italo Calvino wrote Gli effimeri, a text dedicated to Melotti’s work of the same name. His work was subsequently shown in solo and group shows in New York, London, Zurich, Frankfurt and Paris. Melotti died on 22nd of June 1986 and the same year the 42nd Venice Biennale commemorated him with the Golden Lion.