Fausto Melotti’s La Sibilla


Installation view, ‘Fausto Melotti. La Sibilla (The Sibyl)’, Art Basel Unlimited, Basel, Switzerland, 2019 © Fondazione Fausto Melotti, Milan

A pioneer of Italian art, Fausto Melotti trained as a figurative artist studying under Italy’s leading Symbolist sculptor Adolfo Wildt at the Accademia di Brera in Milan. In the following decade he gradually shifted his focus to abstraction and a new non-objective art. Active in the artistic milieu of pre-war Milan, Melotti developed influential friendships with the Rationalist architects of Gruppo 7 and the abstract artists who gravitated around Galleria del Milione. With his friend Lucio Fontana, he joined the Abstraction-Creation movement, developing firm ideas about non-figurative art.

Melotti’s late work in the 1970s and 1980s is characterized by rhythmic geometric forms with an underlying humanist narrative. Melotti moved freely among mediums, incorporating plaster, ceramics, metal and fabric into his work. His delicate sculptures often exploited flexible metals —brass, copper, and bronze. During the 1970s, Melotti began to work on a more monumental and public scale, producing large works in steel and iron.

4 - Studio via Leopardi Milano 1985
Fausto Melotti in his studio in via Leopardi, Milan, 1970s © Fondazione Fausto Melotti, Milan
Fausto Melotti, La Sibilla (The Sibyl), 1981 © Fondazione Fausto Melotti, Milan

In ‘La Sibilla (The Sibyl)’ (1981), Melotti attempts to capture the immaterial essence of the Oracle and its prophetess, showing the artist’s profound interest in Greek mythology. In Greek legend and literature, the sibyl is thought to utter the prophecies of a god. Here she is seated on a throne-like structure facing a staircase occupied by an audience of faithful listeners; in the centre the artist depicts a sphere representing the truth. In ancient Greece the sphere is considered a symbol of perfection, completeness and unity as well as harmony and beauty, and denotes the pure, metaphysical nature of the self-conscious Being.

Fausto Melotti’s work is featured in Hauser & Wirth’s presentation of pioneering artists at Art Basel Unlimited from 13 – 16 June 2019.