Fausto Melotti (1901-1986)
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Fausto Melotti (1901-1986)

I gessetti

Fausto Melotti (1901-1986)
I gessetti
signed 'Melotti' (on the reverse)
painted terracotta and painted clay
18 ¼ x 12 ¾ x 5 1/8in. (46.3 x 32.4 x 13cm.)
Executed in 1959
Galleria La Parisina, Turin.
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in circa 1976-80).
Private Collection, USA.
A. Hammacher, Melotti, Milan, 1975, no. 20, p. 19 (illustrated).
M. Calvesi, Fausto Melotti, Parma, 1976, no. 63, p. 183 (illustrated, with incorrect dimensions and year).
G. Celant, Melotti, Catalogo generale, Sculture 1929-1972, Milan, 1994, vol. I, no. 1959, p. 106 (illustrated).
Reggio Emilia, Sala Comunale delle Esposizioni, Fausto Melotti. Sculture, disegni e pitture 1933-1968, June 1968, no. 59 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Centro Attività Visive, July - August 1968.
Zu¨rich, Marlborough Galerie AG, Fausto Melotti, March - April 1973, no. 6 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Rome, Marlborough Galleria d'Arte, May-June 1973; London, Marlborough Fine Art, October - November 1973.
Parma, Università di Parma, Sala delle Scuderie in Pilotta, Fausto Melotti, June - July 1976, no. 63.
Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, Melotti, December 1994 - January 1995, p. 188 (illustrated p. 75).
New York, Acquavella Galleries, Melotti, April - June 2008, no. 24, p. 155 (illustrated p. 78).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Post lot text
The Fondazione Fausto Melotti has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Leonie Mir
Leonie Mir

Lot Essay

Executed in 1959 as part of his teatrini (puppet theatre) series, I Gessetti is an early example of Fausto Melotti’s figurative terracotta works. I Gessetti is a diorama divided into two distinct levels, and the architecture evokes Piet Mondrian’s neo-plastic compositions. On each ‘floor’, a softly modelled figure sits sideways, knees bent, calmly lost in thought. Warmth emanates from the cloudy grey. In the lower level, Melotti has placed a small table and covered it with the titular chalks which provide the only colour in an otherwise serenely monochromatic tableau, a meditation in terracotta.

In the aftermath of World War II, Melotti turned to ceramics explaining, ‘I must confess that the war has caused me great inner pain and sickness. One cannot make abstract art, one cannot even think about it when the soul is full not of desperation, but of figures of desperation’ (F. Melotti quoted in S. Whitfield, Fausto Melotti: sculptures and works on paper from 1955 to 1983, exh. cat., London, 2006, n.p.). His series of teatrini, as such, serve as setting for his experiments in figuration. Spare in decoration, Melotti’s teatrini present open-ended and accommodating worlds where new narratives can take shape and unfold emphasized by the inclusion of chalk; critic Michela Moro describes them as ‘safe spaces…both lighthearted and profound’ (M. Moro, ‘Fausto Melotti and Thea Djordjadze: La Triennale de Milano,’ Artforum, Summer 2017). The settings are intimate, and they privilege the minor and the personal reminiscent of the Surrealist assemblages of Joseph Cornell whose captivating tableaux transformed the everyday. Like Cornell’s shadowboxes, Melotti’s teatrini are sites for mysterious dreaming and a reconfiguration of reality. I Gessetti is a reach towards peace in the face of previous traumas; the pursuit of an idealized harmony through a domestic calm.

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