- Fausto Melotti
- La Piuma
- 140 by 50 by 36 cm. 55 1/8 by 19 5/8 by 14 1/8 in.
- Executed in 1973.
Private Collection, Milan
Galleria dello Scudo, Verona
Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1999
Bologna, Forni Scultura, Fausto Melotti. Opere dal 1944 al 1986. Sculture, bassorilievi e carte
, April – June 1995, p. 39, illustrated in colour
Zurich, Galerie Lawrence Rubin, Fausto Melotti und Lucio Fontana, February – March 1996
Lucca, Baluardo San Regolo, La linea non figurativa delle Collezioni Lucchesi: 60 opere anni '50-'70, September – October 2001, n.p., no. 1, illustrated in colour
Germano Celant, Melotti, Catalogo generale, Sculture 1973-1986 e Bassorilievi, Vol. II, Milan 1994, p. 369, no. 1973 57, illustrated
Graceful, emotive and enchantingly lyrical, La Piuma
(The Feather) from 1973 is a poignant example of Fausto Melotti’s mature oeuvre. Eight weightless ideograms oscillate like a theatre of swaying bodies inside a thin freestanding metal frame. The geometric elements – rectangles and lunar silhouettes, simulating a waxing and waning crescent – hang in perfect equilibrium alongside a delicate feather that dominates the centre of the composition. Through the motif of the feather, Melotti imbued the work with symbolic gravitas, exploring profound emotional experiences through a universally accessible language. In Native American culture the feather is a symbol of celestial wisdom, while in Christianity, it is an emblem of virtues, such as charity, hope and faith. Looking towards the ancient Greeks, as well as Piero della Francesca and Johann Sebastian Bach for inspiration, the basis of Melotti’s work rest on a rigorous exercise of order and harmony. Nevertheless, there is a profoundly intuitive character to his sculpture, born from the belief that art was an intrinsic result of the subconscious. He explained: “In creation, culture is in balance with the revelations of the unconscious” (Fausto Melotti cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Acquavella Galleries, Fausto Melotti
, 2008, p. 41). A melodious work of art, in which gentle fluctuations of wind move the intricate symmetrical shapes, La Piuma
is a beautiful paradigm of the two key tenants of Melotti’s practice: geometrical rigour and the elusive subconscious.
The whimsy materiality of Melotti’s seemingly weightless sculptures is a formal resolution of his explorations into new conceptions of spatial understanding and material innovation. The paradoxes of movement and immobility, rigidity and flexibility, solidity and weightlessness, are utilised as a means of challenging traditional formations of the sculptural medium. In their lightness Melotti’s delicate forms recall the iconic mobiles of Alexander Calder. Despite working on different continents, the artists employed an analogous sculptural language and imbued the traditionally solid medium of metal with a light expressiveness. Both originally trained in engineering and turned towards music, as well as the Surrealists and Constructivists for inspiration. The magic and genius of both artists lies in their ability to coalesce all of these influences to create dynamic and truly beautiful works of art.
A striking paradigm of Melotti’s revered ingenuity and formal dexterity, La Piuma (The Feather) displays a measured combination of stillness and movement. Its poised equilibrium of shapes and voids engenders a unique dialogue with the symbolic value of form in space.