Fausto Melotti: Works from the Olnick Spanu Collection

January 28 - March 15, 2019

Magazzino Italian Art Foundation presented Fausto Melotti: Works from the Olnick Spanu Collection, an exhibition of select works by master Italian sculptor Fausto Melotti (Rovereto, 1901 – Milan, 1986) on view at the Consulate General of Italy in New York, from January 28 through March 15, 2019. Spanning nearly three decades, from the early 1950s through the 1980s, the broad selection of pieces on view at the Consulate showcases the peak of Melotti’s ceramic production, featuring works that illustrate his unparalleled abstract lyricism and diverse use of materials.

A leading figure in Abstract Art of the 20th century, Melotti began training as a sculptor in the beginning of his career in the late 1920s. Melotti considered the language of visual abstraction to be closely connected to music and architecture. His vocabulary of pure lines and shapes follows rules of harmony, counterpoint, and variation as if composing a musical score of a symphony.

Melotti, like his contemporary Lucio Fontana, developed a specific interest in ceramic from the outset of his career. The artist’s complex position towards ceramic points to how the medium was regarded in Italian art and culture for centuries. In the 20th century, ceramic production was divided between the artisan practice of creating objects for everyday use and the fine art tradition of sculpture. Melotti was aware of the dual role of ceramics and strove to incorporate the medium into his broader sculptural practice. Through extensive experimentation, Melotti created functional cups and vases, that were regarded as fine art pieces due to his exquisite use of colors, enamel coatings and employment of irregular forms and organic shapes, evoking both abstract forms and impressions of the natural world.

Melotti was defiant of academic principles and created ceramic works free from constraints and academic principles. In viewing his work in ceramics alongside his architectural and sculptural practice, Melotti’s overarching approach to art making demonstrates a willingness to experiment with and interweave mediums to create innovative effects. In his drawings, for example, the layers of watercolor and tempera on paper shine and float freely like the enamel layers that envelop the clay in works featured at the Consulate. Melotti’s ceramic practice stands among the most remarkable examples of the artist’s use of poor and perishable materials.

About The Olnick Spanu Collection

The collection of Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu features seminal works by American Pop artists, international and Italian postwar, conceptual, and contemporary artists, with a strong focus on art from the Arte Povera movement. It also includes a large, curated collection of over 500 hand-blown Murano glass works from the 20th and 21st century. Though Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu began collecting Murano glass and Italian art right after they met, in the late 1980s, they both already had an established, independent passion for art. For Olnick and Spanu, collecting Murano glass was the turning point for the collection, which then opened the way to ceramics, jewelry, design, and Italian art from the second part of the 20th century as well as Italian contemporary art.

Prior to their creation of Magazzino Italian Art Foundation in 2017, Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu established The Olnick Spanu Program, to bring the work of Italian contemporary artists to the United States. From 2003 through 2015, they annually commissioned a contemporary Italian artist to create a site-specific artwork for their property in Garrison, New York. Previous participants of the program include: Giorgio Vigna, Massimo Bartolini, Mario Airò, Domenico Bianchi, Remo Salvadori, Stefano Arienti, Bruno Esposito, Marco Bagnoli, Francesco Arena and Paolo Canevari.

About the Consulate General of Italy, New York

The Consulate General of Italy in New York protects the interests of, and provides services to, the huge Italian community in the State of New York and Tristate area. The Consular services deal with cross cutting issues, including passports, civil records, registry, social assistance and legal services, in addition to the issuance of visas and dual citizenship for non-Italian people. The Consulate General of Italy in New York is the point of reference for all New Yorkers who are interested in Italy and it is actively involved in strengthening the cultural, economic and technological ties between Italy and the City of New York, under the guidance of the Embassy of Italy in Washington DC.

Please be advised that the exhibition and the Consulate General of Italy, New York, was not open to the public. However, the exhibition was accessible via private appointment. Please email rsvp@magazzino.art for more details.