Homage to Fausto Melotti

Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero
Peggy Guggenheim Collection
February 1– April 14 2014

Fausto Melotti’s creative idiom matured in 1930s Milan, where abstract art and Rationalist architecture, in the orbit of the Galleria del Milione and the review Quadrante, struggled intensely for recognition. Exponents and protagonists in those crucial years of the Italian avant-garde were architects such as Giuseppe Terragni, Luigi Figini, and Gino Pollini; and artists such as Lucio Fontana, Osvaldo Licini, Atanasio Soldati, and above all Melotti’s cousin Carlo Belli, theorist and author in 1935 of KN (considered ‘the Gospel of Italian abstraction’). In this environment, Melotti from the beginning set out to make sculpture that would function as the transcription into three dimensions of musical forms, such as chords and counterpoint, summoning the evocative power of sounds and marks. An important series of works titled Theme and Variations were inspired by music, and from this originated the cycle of exhibitions of the same name that are periodically presented at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

This Homage to Fausto Melotti, which includes some statements by him, focuses on the decades from the 1960s to the 1980s. Melotti was making sculpture of extreme synthesis and stylization, in malleable metals such as brass, or poor materials such as painted cloth, a subtle and refined precedent for the innovative use of such materials in Arte Povera, to which Melotti’s work is related. His work has been defined ‘anti-sculpture’, and is emblematically located here at the end of this exhibition dedicated to The Empire of Light, hinting at the dematerialization of form as pure luminosity, framed in schematic drawings in space.