This month Hauser and Wirth celebrates the work of acclaimed Italian poet, artist and key figure of European mid-century modernism, Fausto Melotti. Born in Northern Italy in 1901, Melotti lived through two World Wars and the changing tides of society’s industrialization. His body of work reflects the harsh realities of war and suffering intersecting with an artistic inquiry into the limits of abstraction and figuration.

Curated by the Director of the Fausto Melotti Foundation, Edoardo Gnemmi, this new exhibit titled ‘The Deserted City,’ takes its name from Melotti’s 1955 drawing La Citta deserta, a self-portrait portraying the artist as a lone figure, immersed in a desolate and destructed wasteland. Gnemmi’s exhibit builds off of the atmospheric qualities of this rare artist self-portrait, in a show that unfolds around Melotti’s clay and terracotta sculptural works among which are Teatrini, a series of fantastical miniature worlds, or, “little theaters.” The exhibit includes a number of sculptures, drawings and paintings exploring geometric qualities, sweeping landscapes, and anthropomorphic figures, encapsulating Melotti’s ability to merge the narrative sensibilities of figuration with the expressive qualities of stripped-down, geometric schemas.

Gnemmi’s vision for this exhibition takes inspiration from Melotti’s contemporaries, including his peers from the European Abstraction-Création movement, the metaphysical landscape paintings of Giorgo de Chirico, and Alberto Burri’s monumental vision for a land art structure, Magnum Opus. The Deserted City conveys a clear connection to these post-war Italian artists, presenting Melotti within the canon of influential modern Italian art.

– Erika Barbosa