The work of Italian post-war sculptor, painter and poet Fausto Melotti is being celebrated in new exhibition The Deserted City.
Considered a pioneer of Italian art, Fausto Melotti is known for his contribution to the development of mid-century European Modernism and the ‘Abstraction-Création’ movement, developing firm ideas about non-figurative art.
The Deserted City situates Melotti’s work within the context of his fellow Italian artistic titans, drawing inspiration from the metaphysical landscapes of Giorgio de Chirico and Italian painter and sculptor Alberto Burri’s land art masterpiece, Grande Cretto.
Throughout the gallery, large plinths carve paths that recall the ‘cretto’ (crack) of Grande Cretto, an immense concrete landscape conceptualised by Burri in 1981 as a memorial to the Sicilian city of Gibellina, which was decimated by an earthquake in the late 1960s. As visitors move through winding pathways, the exhibition takes the form of a theatrical space, enhancing the narrative powers of Melotti’s sculptures and igniting the viewer’s imagination.
At the core of the installation is Melotti’s I Sette Savi (The Seven Sages), consisting of seven towering spectral figures in pure white plaster, frozen in a silent exchange. The landscape of The Deserted City unfolds around these Seven Sages, and Melotti’s most iconic works from the 1940s through the mid-1980s – including his ceramics, fantastical Teatrini ('Little Theatres'), and lithe brass sculptures – are installed atop the large-scale plinths.
His 1955 drawing La città deserta (The deserted city), from which the exhibition takes its title, is a rare self-portrait of Melotti, depicting the artist as a lone figure traversing a desolate, burned landscape.
The Deserted City is on view until 27 October 2018, at Hauser & Wirth, New York.