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Fausto Melotti : Counterpoint - Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

Exhibition preview

AN EXHIBITION entitled Fausto Melotti : Counterpoint will be on display at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art from January 16 to April 7, 2019.

The harmonious and delicately-poised work of Fausto Melotti (1901 – 1986) is revered in Italy, yet surprisingly little-known in the UK. Informed by the languages of music and mathematics, his artistic activity spanned sculpture, ceramics and two-dimensional imagery.

Organized in collaboration with Milan’s Fondazione Fausto Melotti, the exhibition includes key works from his entire career, from the 1930s until the1980s, and is the first institutional show of Melotti’s work in the UK. It reveals an Italian master whose imagery is not only infused with a sense of precision, but also a spirit of poetry, playfulness and exuberance.

Born in Rovereto, Melotti initially studied physics and mathematics at the University of Pisa before graduating in electrical engineering from Milan Polytechnic in 1924. At this time, he also studied the piano and sculpture, enrolling at the Accademia di Brera in 1928. There, Melotti met Lucio Fontana who became a lifelong friend.

By 1935, Melotti’s cousin Carlo Belli had published his treatise Kn – a volume famously described by Kandinsky as “the Gospel of abstract art” – and Melotti joined the Abstraction-Création movement. That year he took part in an exhibition of abstract art in Turin, followed by a solo show at Milan’s influential Galleria del Milione, displaying works largely inspired by the mathematical principles of musical counterpoint.

The exhibition brought him little success, and for a time Melotti worked on figurative pieces and bas-reliefs for public buildings such as Marcello Piacentini’s Palazzo della Giustizia (1937 – 39), as well as for the Esposizione Universale di Roma (EUR), planned for 1942.

During the post-war period, he won several awards for his ceramics; in 1967, he exhibited a number of new sculptures and began to achieve the success that had eluded him earlier in his career. Unlike his solid, geometric pre-war sculptures, these pieces were delicate, incorporating wire and cloth.

Melotti died in 1986, and that year the 42nd Venice Biennale posthumously awarded him the Leone d’Oro prize.

Image: La sposa di Arlecchino (Harlequin’s Bride) 1979. Brass, plaster, fabric, painted paper, 63 × 150 × 55 cm. © Fondazione Fausto Melotti, Milan. Courtesy Fondazione Fausto Melotti and Hauser & Wirth.

Admission: £6.50, £4.50 concessions. Includes entry to exhibition and permanent collection.

Opening Hours: Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11am to 6pm; Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays .

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London, N1 2AN

Tel: +44 (0)20 7704 9522