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Artist Bernar Venet designed a striking Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport for Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 unveiled at The Rubell Family Collection.
As with every special-edition Veyron, the car is uniquely painted in a scheme of dark chocolate browns on the outside and lighter versions of the same colors inside the cabin.
Venet, who has a fascination with the beauty of mathematical equations, wrapped the car’s exterior and interior with the actual formulas and symbols engineers use to design the famous driving machine. The result is an exquisite, dynamic, one-of-a-kind work of art. Bugatti describes it simply as, “the fastest artwork ever.”
WHITEWALL: How have the reactions been to your adaptation of the Bugatti Grand Sport?
BERNAR VENET: People have been extremely enthusiastic. The Bugatti in itself is already a masterpiece. But with the idea of using mathematical and technical equations, adding something original to it, visitors have been looking with very big eyes!
WW: There have been synergies in the past between luxury and art – jets and yachts and cars that have been specially painted or designed. But it’s hard to recall such a powerful combination of art and machine.
BV: I have to be modest—the car, is more important than me. This is the most extraordinary car that has ever been built in the history of cars. Ever. There is nothing that can be compared to it. Even the Bugatti Royale, which was incredible in the 1920s, is just a reference point today.
Now – it’s a car before anything. But of course, we tried to do something a little extra, something a little bit unusual.
WW: What were some of the challenges in the process?
BV: When Bugatti invited me, my answer immediately was, “You don’t paint a Michelangelo.” How can you possibly add something? I thought, I cannot make this car look better than what it is.
But they insisted, so I tried to find a solution. The solution, in the end, was to have the car talk about itself; a declaration. The equations are mathematical studies that were performed in order to make the car go fast and perform incredibly.
WW: Your signature passion for mathematical formulas seems to be quite the perfect partnership then, as “a ready made canvas on the Bugatti.”
BV: Yes, all the graphics that are put on the exterior body panel are basically an homage to the car itself. Not just to the design, but also to the functionality and the power of the machine. This car has four turbos! It is superlative. It’s the fastest convertible in the world!
WW: Can you give us an example of one of the mathematical formulas and what it actually means?
BV: This Bugatti has an engine that is beautifully shaped like a W. Basically you have the camshaft, which is at the bottom, and from all the sides, the cylinders that are running. As a result, the axle of the camshaft is not exactly in the middle. One of the formulas is basically how to calculate the exact position of that camshaft inside the engine. That’s one example of a mathematic formula that is used for the development of this engine.
I want to present works of art that are totally abstract. And there is nothing more abstract than a mathematical equation. The ideal solution would be to use symbols, equations, and mathematical concepts.
WW: What is the significance of the saturation of color that starts out bright orange and fades to the chocolate brown?
BV: It’s like speed is erasing the letters. It gives a feeling of absolute dynamism.
WW: What is the focus of your next project?
BV: It will be homage to al-Khwārizmī – he was Egyptian. It will be at the Venice Biennale. In the history of mathematics, he is one of the biggest. He invented Algebra. And I’m sure he drove a Bugatti!
Photos: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Bugatti