Ettore BUGATTI (manufacturer), Italy/France 1881–1947 - Type 57C Atalante 1938 - 143 x 163 x 486 cm. - Private collection 

MELBOURNE, AU - The National Gallery of Victoria will present Bugatti: Carlo Rembrandt Ettore Jean, the first Australian exhibition to focus on the extraordinary Bugatti family. Bugatti: Carlo Rembrandt Ettore Jean will comprise over 30 works across a range of media exploring the remarkable, creative output that emerged from this one family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Welcome to the world of Bugatti. On exhibition 6 February through 26 April, 2009.

For most people the world of Bugatti is associated with cars. However, the Bugatti story is a much larger one, encompassing three generations and four remarkable individuals: Carlo Bugatti, his sons Ettore and Rembrandt, and Ettore's son Gianoberto (Jean). This exhibition will show the furniture, sculpture and cars of this extraordinary family. Drawn from private collections, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the furniture now in the collection of the NGV, including the last chair from Carlo Bugatti's 'Snail Room' exhibited in Turin, 1902 (and a centrepiece of the show) the exhibition includes 13 pieces of Carlo's furniture, 15 animal sculptures by Rembrandt, a Type 37 racing car from Ettore's workshops and a Type 57C coupe designed by Jean Bugatti. The bringing together of these seemingly disparate works may be a surprise, but they reflect a common creative impulse and share a unity of expression that binds them together.

The work of the Bugatti family - three generations of Italian craftsmen, artists and designers - is as diverse as it is original. The exhibition will include furniture by Carlo (1856-1940); sculpture by Rembrandt (1885-1916); as well as cars by Ettore (1881-1947) and son Jean (1909-1939). 

Carlo BUGATTI Chair, from the Snail Room c.1902 wood, painted & gilt vellum, brass 97.0 x 45.0 x 40.0 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, © Carlo Bugatti / ADAGP. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia Photo: Predrag Cancar“The patriarch of the family Carlo Bugatti is known for his idiosyncratic oriental-inspired furniture, of which the Throne chair is an outstanding example. Yet undoubtedly his greatest contribution to the development of twentieth century design are his Art-Nouveau-inspired chairs from the Snail Room. They were exhibited at the First International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Arts in Turin in 1902 and won the most prestigious award, the Diploma of Honour. The NGV recently acquired the last remaining chair from the set of four to remain in private hands. This work will form the centrepiece of the NGV exhibition,” said Ms Dunsmore.

Carlo’s youngest son Rembrandt Bugatti is recognised as one of the most talented and individual sculptors of the twentieth century, despite a career that lasted only twelve years. A deeply shy man, he led a solitary life with few friends but found refuge and the expression of his emotional world through animals. His extraordinary oeuvre of sculptures was produced from the animals he observed at the Paris and Antwerp zoos. His innate empathy with his subjects is clear in their tactile and life-like qualities. Tragically, Rembrandt’s career ended when he took his own life in his Paris studio in 1916. For the first time in Australia, Rembrandt’s intensely personal sculptures will be on public display.

Another highlight of the exhibition will be a Type 37 racing car designed by Ettore Bugatti, Carlo’s eldest son. Founder of the famous Bugatti car company, Ettore Bugatti was an artist who chose cars and their mechanical components as his subject. The Bugatti engine and bodywork designs are amongst the most highly resolved combinations of aesthetic form and function. The Type 37 in the exhibition came new to Australia in 1926.

Ettore’s son Jean contributed some of the most adventurous bodywork designs of the 1930s to the cars produced by the Bugatti company.

A rare Type 57C Atalante designed by Jean in 1938 and brought to Australia in 1955 will also feature in the exhibition. In another tragic turn for the family, Jean died in 1939 at the age of 30 whilst test driving a Bugatti car.

The collective achievements of this family represent a uniquely creative moment in the history of the art of the twentieth century. Visit The National Gallery of Victoria at : http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/

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