"Asking a sculptor to make ceramics was like asking a poet to write advertisements", claimed Melotti back in 1939. Long before being distinguishable, artists like Melotti and Fontana have struggled the Ceramic Sculpture, is it ceramic or sculpture?
Having to clarify this, Fontana went on to publish a text, in which he defined himself:
“I am a sculptor, not a ceramicist. I have never thrown a plate on a wheel nor painted a vase. I detest lacy designs and dainty nuances.“ Lucio Fontana.
Both these artists were first drawn to clay because of its economical means and accessibility after the war. A part of me begins to wonder if they were to live today what new materials would they be creating their ideas with, considering neither of them were pleased about being too associated with being a ceramist. Would Fontana's Nature series be constructed of polyurethane? How would technology and the discovery of new materials impact their enthusiasm for installations in their later works? In the article it explains that the choice to work with clay gave them an opportunity to reach wider audiences, Fontana and Melotti's work would not just be in the gallery but also at trade fairs and used in homes.
Being unfamiliar with most of Fontana and Melotti's work, I visited some other sites and attached the pictures above. One can see the changes stylistically and intuitively from their works over the decades. Despite creating works that are used at home and sold in trade fairs, Melotti and Fontana's ceramics always remained in the realms of fine art. Fontana insisted that they were so because they were 'monotypes' as they were often unique objects that are directly and carefully modelled by the artist. This brings up the issue of form and function to me and I read it to be a question of can fine, high art pieces be functional and duplicated to multiples or does an object loses it high/fine art quality when they are also function? In high art, can form still follow function?
I am most moved by the notion of creating artwork at dire times after world wars. Coming from a developing third world country, the liberal arts are often put down and seconded to science and technology. But to imagine establishing oneself as an artist back then in Italy after the war would be similarly challenging.