Carlo Bugatti (1855-1940)

Carlo Bugatti was an Italian artist and designer who is famous throughout the world for his unique extravagant style.

Carlo Bugatti (1920) portrait in black and white.
Carlo Bugatti Photo (1920)

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Bugatti#/media/File:Carlo_Bugatti_(1920).jpg

About His Life

Carlo Bugatti was born in Milan on February 16, 1856. He studied at the Brera Academy in Milan and at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. After opening his workshop in Milan by 1898, he was featured at exhibitions in Turin and in Paris. Then, Bugatti immigrated to Paris, in 1904, with Teresa, his wife, and his three children. There, he opened another workshop for the production of luxury goods. After the death of his wife and youngest son, he moved in with his son Ettore near the Bugatti car plant in Molsheim. Then, Bugatti died in April 1940.

Cobra Chair, Carlo Bugatti, 1902: An odd shaped chair without arms.
Cobra Chair (1902) by Carlo Bugatti

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/ae1d5365-4637-4a82-8889-b04eea4d15c7 by lartnouveauenfrance

His Major Works

Carlo Bugatti devoted much of his research to round and arched forms, which found their way into the Turin International Exhibition of Contemporary Decorative Arts in 1902. There, his Snail Room, built in a spiral around a rod depicting the head of an animal, made a splash. The four chairs and a table in the center of the room are sculptures, in which the strength of the form matches the subtlety of the ornament. Additionally, an international jury gave the highest award to the artist who was hailed as “the first in Italy to bring contemporary furniture to life, not dream.” The Cobra Chair, part of a large set of furniture designed for the Snail-room, foreshadows the Art Deco style.

Snail room (1902) by Carlo Bugatti
Snail room (1902)

Image source:  https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/356b0404-2aaf-41d2-adfb-5e16b690c4e2 by lartnouveauenfrance

 Another one of Bugatti’s works, the Curule Armchair or Throne Chair (1905), was made of walnut and blackened wood, and inlaid with pewter, copper, brass, and bone details. Additionally, Bugatti’s use of varying textures is interesting, and it reinforces the sense of dynamic tension created by the lack of symmetry.

Also, his tea and coffee set are particularly impressive. In 1907, he created boar’s head, elephant-trunk, and dragonfly-themed sets.

Tea Set (detail), c. 1907. Designed by Carlo Bugatti (Italian, 1856-1940), executed by A. A. Hebrard (French, 1866-1937). Silver and ivory; 13.5 x 76.9 cm. The Thomas L. Fawick Memorial Collection 1980.74
Tea Set (1907)

Image source: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1980.74

Features of Bugatti’s Style

His style is highly individualist, although he drew on Gothic, Moorish, and Oriental influences and the work of Violet le Duc. Further, his work demonstrates the most confident use of a simple powerful form, which is sometimes geometric and sometimes organic.

Salon de Carlo Bugatti,1890
Salon de Carlo Bugatti (1890)
Milan

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/8c346416-e1d7-4aad-8b06-755d0e131eab by dalbera

His style set him apart from the fashion trends of the early 1900s. Also, animals and nature inspired him. So many items, which were made from parchment, bone, mother-of-pearl, pewter, copper, and other exquisite materials, were meticulously crafted in a variety of colors and textures with decorative motifs reminiscent of dragonflies.

Fauteuil de Carlo Bugatti (Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin): A photo of one of his chair designs
Fauteuil de Carlo Bugatti (1890)

Image source: https://search.creativecommons.org/photos/28735093-d208-4ad0-97e0-e4cffaf0f988 by dalbera


Info sources:

http://www.theflorentine.net

http://www.italianways.com

http://www.buga-trust.co.uk

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com

http://collection.cmoa.org

http://www.artandantiquesmag.com

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