Some consider a Ferrari a genuine work of art, on par with a Picasso, a Van Gogh or a Klimt. It’s no coincidence then that the MoMA in New York chose to exhibit the 641/2, winner of the 1990 Formula One World Championship, alongside the works of these artists. This car, as the museum catalogue states, “clearly illustrates the modernist dictum ‘form follows function’.”
Nor is it a coincidence that of the 10 vehicles sold for the highest price at a public auction, nine bear the Ferrari logo. But what happens when an artist goes a step further and places a Ferrari, or the symbols borrowed from the Prancing Horse, at the centre of a creative vision? Several such works have been created, ranging from paintings to sculptures and photographs.
There’s a vast repertoire of art-cars. Joseph Klibansky’s 458 Italia, is just one example of a long line of Ferrari vehicles reworked by creative minds: French artist Philippe Pasqua, for example, completely covered a 430 Scuderia in leather before giving the car a “tattoo”. Installed on a wall of the Galerie Laurent Strouk in Paris, it’s more installation than art car, an allegory for speed, the mechanical and the organic, extreme danger and pure sensuality.
Even John Crash Matos from New York, one of the pioneers of the graffiti art movement, didn’t pull back when he was asked to carry his art over from decorating urban areas to embellishing a Ferrari F430 with his unique touch.
And there’s no forgetting Londoner Ben Levy’s work: the eccentric and humorous artist based his creation for the 2015 Artceleration event on the F430 Challenge (2008). Artceleration is part of Miami’s Art Basel. At that same event, graffiti artist Retna focused his work on an identical vehicle from 2007. Retna, who blends photography, writing and painted graffiti with elements of the past, developed an original livery as a tribute to the North American Racing Team (NART).
To call Lu Hao’s creation an “art car” would be an understatement. The Chinese artist worked with Ferrari in 2009 to create the one and only 599 GTB HGTE Fiorano China Limited Edition. Inspired by the Song dynasty’s unique Ge Kiln porcelain, the paint used re-created the “cracked” effect of that particular porcelain. The vehicle was auctioned off in Beijing for €1.2 million: the proceeds were donated to the University of Tsinghua’s Automotive Engineering department.
French-American artist Duaiv chose a 2014 model for his art car. The figurative painter decorated the ample sides of a Ferrari FF, the first Ferrari with four-wheel drive, with his particular rainbow of colours: a great find by the Ferrari dealership in Fort Lauderdale.
When it comes to sculpture, the selection of Ferrari-inspired works is vast and varied, with everything from the institutional to the daring. Marino Quartieri, from Modena, opted for the institutional with his five-metre-tall bronze statue representing the most significant moments in Enzo Ferrari’s life. Enzo’s son Piero donated the statue to Maranello in 1998 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his father’s birth.
Scuderia Ferrari also received a gift for its 50th anniversary, Franco Reggiani’s Evoluzione, created in 1979. Reggiani’s work is a fusion of the design and technical elements of Maranello’s most famous racing cars. The front is a combination of an Alfa Romeo P2 (which Enzo drove in his first race with Scuderia Ferrari in 1929) a Ferrari 166 MM and a Barchetta Touring. The mud guards and wheel arches were inspired by the Barchetta Touring and the F430 Superamerica, while the back combined elements of a Ferrari Dino 246 and a typical 1959 F1 single-seater, with the trunk and rear wing of the Ferrari 321 T5 driven by Gilles Villeneuve.
A must for fans making the “pilgrimage” to Maranello is a photo with the Monument to the Prancing Horse, created by Albanian sculptor Helidon Xhixha. Standing five metres tall and weighing 800kg, the imposing stainless steel statue was installed a few dozen metres from the Galleria del Vento the day after Ferrari’s 2003 F1 World Championship victory.
Arman, the French sculptor and painter known for his creations composed of multiple identical objects, was the author of the 1999 work Rampante: a five-metre-tall bronze installation made up of multiple superimposed models of the Ferrari F40, a tribute to Enzo and Dino Ferrari located at the entrance to the Imola circuit.
Bertrand Lavier, on the other hand, gave Ferrari art a completely different spin. Known for being part of the ready-made current, which sees a potential work of art in everyday objects. He modelled a 1993 Dino 308 GT4 by destroying it: the combined work of Bertone’s design, Maranello’s artisanship and the forces of physics. In a different work, Lavier covered a GTS 308 in acrylic paint, converting it into pop art.
A completely different approach was taken in 2014 by young Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner, who captured the essence of a California T through an explosion of colour. 'When you think of a Ferrari, you think of design,' Oefner states. 'But you also think of speed, and I wanted to find a way to visualise both elements.' (You can see how he did it here.)
Oefner didn’t stop there: aware of the fact that the beauty of a car is (also) hidden under the chassis, he pulled apart every component of a 330 P4 for his Disintegrating series. The final effect was that of a car exploding in zero gravity. Now, should the thought of such a rare jewel being dismantled shock you, you needn’t worry: a scale model was used…