Lot 28
  • 28

Fausto Melotti

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Fausto Melotti
  • Contrappunto XI
  • Inox steel
  • 100.2 by 100.5 by 29.4 cm. 39 1/2 by 39 5/8 by 11 5/8 in
  • Executed in 1974, this work is number 2 from an edition of 3.


Galleria Stein, Milan

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Genova, Galleria Rotta, Fausto Melotti, October 1976, illustrated

Sermoneta, Castello Caetani, 20° Festival Pontino di Musica 1984, Fausto Melotti, 1984, no. 4

Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia di Venezia, Melotti, June – September 1985, p. 38, no. 17, illustrated

Milan, Ruggerini e Zonca, Astrazione informale, May – June 1991, no. 10

Varese, Fondazione Bandera per l’Arte, Fausto Melotti: Segno, musica e poesia, May – October 2000, p. 35, illustrated

Naples, Museo Madre, Fausto Melotti, 2011, p. 289, illustrated


Vanni Scheiwiller, ‘Sculture Senza Peso’, in: Arte, Vol. XVII, No. 167, October 1986, p. 65, illustrated

Germano Celant, Melotti, Catalogo generale, Sculture 1973-1986 e Bassorilievi, Vol. II, Milan 1996, p. 397, no. 31, illustrated


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Executed in 1974, Contrappunto XI, or counterpoint in English, evinces a miniature stage of weightless geometric shapes suspended in perfect equilibrium and harmony. As outlined by the art historian Haito Masahiko: “The counterpoint in sculpture, which [Melotti] had pursued throughout his career, was developed as a comprehensive style that can not only handle the difference in form between triangles and ellipses, but also harmoniously combine the conflicting elements of light and shadow, an actual object and its image, or life and death” (Haito Masahiko, ‘Commentaries on sections’, in: Exh. Cat., Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Fausto Melotti, 1999, p. 204). In music, counterpoint defines the relationship between different voices that are harmonically interdependent yet independent in contour and rhythm. It is often seen in classical music, especially that of the Baroque and Renaissance. Like many of the post-war European avant-garde, Melotti’s artistic agenda was driven by a need to overcome the horrors of the Second World War. Looking towards the Renaissance principles of order, harmony, geometry and music, Melotti explored profound emotional experiences through a universally accessible artistic language. Beautifully invoking the geometric purity of Melotti’s pursuit of harmony and counterpoint, the present work displays the primary concerns of Fausto Melotti’s mature practice.

Contrappunto XI is a fragile spatial construction enriched by symbolic effects which recall the language of sound and purport a dream-like narrative quality. Its dangling spheres, curved rods and shimmering metal sheets appear as note-like forms; weightlessly suspended in the air they delineate an intricate orchestra of melodies and sounds. In its symbolic representation of musical scores, Contrappunto XI is closely akin to the lyrical paintings of Paul Klee, whose delicate abstractions of the natural world are suffused by varying musical references and elusively changing rhythms.

A key member of the post-war Milanese avant-garde, Melotti studied figurative art under the Symbolist sculptor Adolfo Wildt at the Accademia dell Brera in Milan. An active member of the vibrant artistic milieu of pre-war Milan, Melotti befriended fellow student Lucio Fontana, whose work would have a lasting influence on him, as well as the Rationalist architects of Gruppo 7 and the abstract artists associated with the Galleria del Milione. Highly influenced by Fontana, he joined the Abstraction-Creations movement and firmly embraced the dialectic of non-figurative art. Hugely prolific Melotti’s oeuvre includes figurative drawings and ceramics, architectural designs, as well as his revered sculptures.

Beautiful, delicate, and truly lyrical, Contrappunto XI displays a measured combination of stillness and movement. Its poised equilibrium of shapes and voids truly encapsulates its literal meaning of counterpoint and affirms its status as a masterpiece of Fausto Melotti’s mature oeuvre.