A long-lost version of “I Sette Savi” by Fausto Melotti has found a new home in Milan

Commissioned in 1961 for the garden of the Liceo Carducci building, the sculptures are heading to the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo Da Vinci.

“I Sette Savi” in the garden of the first cloister of the museum. Elena Galimberti

During a lengthy official ceremony on Thursday morning at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, a version of Fausto Melotti’s work “I Sette Savi” was presented to the city. The work has found a new home and will be permanently preserved in the collections of the museum on Via San Vittore.

Commissioned in 1961 by the City of Milan for the garden of the new Liceo Carducci building on Via Beroldo, the group of seven sculptures is a reinterpretation of the work “Costante Uomo” that Melotti had presented at the 6th Triennale in 1936, for the Sala Della Coerenza designed by Studio BBPR. With these shapes of human figures without details reminiscent of archaic statues, ancient and modern at the same time, the artist reinterpreted the topos of the wise guardians of ancient Greek civilization, such as the philosopher and mathematician Thales.

After being removed because of damage and hidden from the public for a long period of time, the sculptures were recovered thanks to the initiative of the Liceo Carducci Student Association and restored in 2013.

A photo of the discovery of “I Sette Savi” in the storeroom of the Liceo Carducci on the initiative of the Carducciani Association and thanks to the collaboration of Mrs. Elena Battagliese, the Liceo’s historic custodian. Credits Diego Noja, January 2008.

There are various versions of this work that Melotti made during his career. In 1981, in Milan, he created a version for the PAC, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, on Via Palestro, which can still be seen from the windows on the ground floor.

After a brief period at the Milan-Malpensa airport, this version, made of Viggiù stone, found its definitive location outdoors, in the gardens of the Milan museum. The installation of the sculptures symbolically represents the completion of the redevelopment project of the two cloisters of the building, which in the last year have seen the reorganization of the gardens and the enhancement of the remains of the walls of the Roman mausoleum beneath them.

The installation of “I Sette Savi” in the garden of the first cloister of the Monumental building is based on previous arrangements of Melotti’s work. Courtesy Elena Galimberti.

The arrangement of the sculptures is based on previous historical installations, maintaining the play of glances between the anthropomorphic silhouettes that look at each other without ever crossing, in a continuous bounce that also involves the spectator, who can admire them from every angle of the gardens and upper loggias.

“I Sette Savi” in the garden of the first cloister of the museum. Courtesy Elena Galimberti.

The recently restored Cloisters were chosen as the location for the sculptural group to create a link between the sculptures, the terrace, and the architectural context, in line with the Museum’s identity and mission, which is a continuous dialogue between art, science, and technology.

“Guido Ucelli, the museum’s founder and a true humanist engineer, is an example of this, as are the 20th-century artists who over the decades have been called to work in dialogue with spaces and collections, from the Pomodoro brothers to Hidetoshi Nagasawa” explained Claudio Giorgione, Curator Leonardo Arte e Scienza, of the museum.

“Melotti’s work is part of Milan’s history,” Tommaso Sacchi, the Councillor for Culture of the City of Milan, said during the press conference. “‘I Sette Savi’ has a unique and iconic relationship with this city,” he added.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.