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Sculpture - Unique Shapes of Continuity in Space

​A multisensory experience of Italian design


Casa Fiat de Cultura holds an unprecedented and immersive exhibition combining art and design, fascination for cars and a lot of affective memories

August 16, 2019 - What do cars, a sculpture, and a couch have in common? Well, maybe a lot! If the car is a Ferrari Testarossa (1988), the sculpture is the Unique Shapes of Continuity in Space by the futuristic Umberto Boccioni (1913), and the sofa is the Bocca shaped like lips created by Studio 65 for Gufram in 1970, then they have in common the fascinating Italian design and its visionary essence.

It’s under this aesthetic arc that the exhibition “Beauty in Motion - Icons of Italian Design at Casa Fiat de Cultura” is born, with a collection of over 100 pieces, including automobiles, artwork, objects and multimedia installations. This unprecedented exhibition is one of the great exhibits on the theme, free and open to the public from August 13 to November 3 of this year, in Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais, where 43 years ago Fiat chose to establish itself.

The Casa Fiat de Cultura’s exhibition is curated by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Head of the Design Center Latam, Peter Fassbender from Germany, with the collaboration of Italian architect and historian Maddalena D'Alfonso. “Italy still occupies a prominent place, that combines cutting-edge technology and rigorous design”, says Maddalena. Fassbender's affective relationship with the pieces helps create a coherent and sensitive universe for the exhibit. “What you see here in the exhibition is part of my life. I went from Germany to Italy because of my love for Italian design, to meet the great masters and learn from them”, says Peter, who spent twelve years working there. It was then that his admiration for the five icons of car design, featured in the exhibition, grew: Italian companies that guided new aesthetics between the 1910s and 1960s, such as Bertone, Touring Superleggera, Pininfarina, GFG Style and Zagato.

Alfa Romeo Montreal (1971) at Casa Fiat de Cultura

Carrozzeria Bertone, for instance, is represented in the show by an Alfa Romeo Montreal (1971), designed by Marcello Gandini, and a Lamborghini Miura (1969); there are other designer objects featured, such as the Arco lamp (1962), created by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni. In the space dedicated to Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera, a 2013 Alfa Romeo Disco Volante and a 1969 Lamborghini 400 GT share the spotlight with the 1971 grass-shaped pouf Pratone, a hybrid between design and decorative artwork by the Italians Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi and Riccardo Rosso. Who could have imagined that in one single gallery, the one dedicated to Carrozzeria Pininfarina, whose style was consecrated after World War II, there would be a Ferrari Dino GT 246 (1974) together with a 1968 Olivetti Valentine typewriter (1968), known as “the red laptop?” The mix is ​​justified: “the exhibition is very rich, showing not only cars but the atmosphere of Italy’s remarkable twentieth century design reflected in the city, the architecture, the art and the movies”, according to Fassbender.

With so many stimuli, the exhibit has a multisensory proposal, which is pretty much related to the art of creating cars. “Design goes beyond the beauty that you see. In the process of creation we work with clay, we continuously handle the models, the surfaces. A car is handmade”, says Peter. And, if in the exhibition one cannot touch the pieces, other senses are stimulated, such as hearing. One of the installations featured creates the roaring sound of classic car engines, for an immersive experience: it’s a sound felt throughout the body and not just heard, which triggers the adrenaline rush of high speed. Those who venture to close their eyes have the sensation of being transported elsewhere, as the sound evokes the physical presence of an artwork on wheels. The sound of the Ferrari 355, F40, F12tdf, 360 Challenge Stradale and F50 are all reproduced; as are the engine sounds of Alfa Romeo 8C, 155 V6, 4C, Montreal V8 and Tipo 33 Stradale.

DeLorean from "Back to the Future" movie

In addition to sound, the sense of smell can even be stimulated. The famous “scent of a new car”, a favorite among car owners, can be experienced in the Fiat Fastback, an SUV, sedan and coupe hybrid concept car designed by the Design Center Latam. But Casa Fiat de Cultura's galleries, for the first time, have been entirely occupied by a single exhibit containing scents that have had long trajectories. “When I got close to the Giulia (Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider, 1964), I could smell a historic car”, says Peter, with enthusiasm and respect for the model. He jokes that this is not the smell of an old car. It’s much more than that.

Other experiences that arouse memories, often from childhood, are present in the collection. Those who love miniature cars — Fassbender himself is part of this group — will lose themselves with more the than 70 models on display, that celebrate the art of collecting, with an automotive design timeline from 1906 to 2017. Among the relics are: the Fiat 24CV (1906), an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 (1933), the Fiat 500 (1957), a Ferrari 250 GTO (1962), a Lamborghini Countach (1973), a Fiat Uno (1983), a Ferrari F40 (1987), a Fiat 500 (2008), LaFerrari (2013) and a Maserati Levante (2017). In another room you can watch unforgettable Formula 1 duels, such as the 1988 French Grand Prix, where Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost disputed the lead in a thrilling track.

Alessi objects at Casa Fiat de Cultura

Even a science fiction fan can find something to admire in the exhibition. “Especially those who grew up in the 1980s, like me, who still have the DeLorean etched in their minds from the Back to the Future trilogy. And I believe only a hand full have not seen at least one of them”, comments Fernão Silveira, president of Casa Fiat de Cultura, on the 1982 model consecrated by the seventh art and present in the exhibition in the space dedicated to Carrozzeria GFG Style. “The Italian cinema has portrayed cars as characters, so we brought this concept in cars that go from 1940 to 1970, which is the historical period we chose”, according to Fernão, who was not a car-loving child (but a football-lover instead!). However, this relationship changed over time. The selection features some excerpts from striking films like Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, released in 1960 and set in Rome.

“It's a special year for us. We are celebrating 120 years of Fiat's foundation and five of the Casa Fiat de Cultura located in the Cultural Circuit of Praça da Liberdade, in Palácio dos Despachos in Minas Gerais, a building listed as a historic cultural heritage”, comments Fernão. He recalls that the previous exhibition, “Saint Francis in the Art of Italian Masters”, ended 2018 as one of the 100 most visited exhibits in the world. “We hope to break this record in 2019 with 'Beauty in Motion'. We are offering a rich experience of images, sounds, smells. It’s an exhibition of great sensitivity and intelligence, compatible with our history”, he concludes.


Words: Bárbara Caldeira

Pictures: Marketing

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