With paintings, sculptures, furniture, and decorative arts—along with the cars—"The Art of Bugatti" will appeal to the art crowd as well as car enthusiasts. Most of the objects are from the Petersen or Oxnard's Mullin Automotive Museum, founded by Peter W. Mullin, chairman of the Petersen board. (Below, a 1939 Bugatti Type 57C, a French government wedding gift to Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, future Shah of Iran.)
Trained as an architect, Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940) never got around to building an actual building. Instead he became the consummate Art Nouveau weirdo. His work is hardly ever seen in L.A. Below is a Moorish-influenced Side Table, c. 1890 shown with two Fringed Chairs from about a decade later. Carlo took fin de siècle in the direction of surrealism; his aesthetic is often compared to Gaudi's.
Carlo is less notable as a painter, but a portrait of his daughter-in-law, Barbara Bolzoni Bugatti, stands out for its alarming hairstyle and side-eyed menace.
Jean also died at age 30. In 1939 he crashed a Type 57 race car into a tree at high speed. Though the Bugatti brand has survived to be celebrated in hip-hop, Jean's death put an end to the classic epoch of Bugatti automobiles.
That does not exhaust the corpus of talented Bugattis. Jean's sisters Lydia and L'Ebé were painters, and there are a few of Lydia's watercolors on view—mostly studies for hood ornaments. The family had connections to the post-impressionist painter Giovanni Segantini (Carlo's brother-in-law); the once-fashionable sculptor Paolo Troubetzkoy; and the canonical modernist Alberto Giacometti. None of the latter are in the Petersen show, but a gallery text aptly quotes Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto in praising the bad-boy beauty of the automobile.
|Type 46 Cabriolet, 1930|