• Duration of the Exhibition28. March 2014 - 27. July 2014
  • VenueAlte Nationalgalerie
  • The exhibition is made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie and supported by Volkswagen.

Foto: David von Becker

Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916) is one of the most remarkable and artistically independent sculptors of the early 20th century. Brother of the legendary designer of motorcars, Bugatti produced an œuvre comprising more than 300 works during his short life, unparalleled in terms of intensity and diversity of form.The exhibition in the Alte Nationalgalerie showing more than 100 bronze sculptures, drawings and documents is the first large museum retrospective of Rembrandt Bugatti’s work world-wide; it thus paves the way to a brilliant rediscovery of this artist. For even though extremely successful during his lifetime and rated with the highest prices to the present day, Rembrandt Bugatti has fallen into oblivion after his untimely death.

Museums in Paris, Washington and Antwerp have sent works on loan to Berlin. The majority of the works on show, however, comes from international private collections in Australia, Europe and America, some of which are displaying their treasures publicly for the first time in the Nationalgalerie.Artistic ŒuvreAs a young man Rembrandt Bugatti had already found the subject which was to fascinate him all his life: the animal. While at first predominantly depicting cattle he later discovered exotic animals from all over the world in the zoological gardens in Paris and in Antwerp. With Bugatti, anteaters, tapirs, marabous as well as yaks, condors and kangaroos are introduced as subjects for sculpture for the first time in European history of art. He was particularly fond of big cats whose elegance and strength he captured like no other sculptor.

Rembrandt Bugatti observed his models at length and very attentively. He then went on to produce most of his works in a single session in front of, or even within, the animal enclosure. His enormous faculty of observation and the absolute command of his sculptural means permitted him to portray the essence of the animal in crucial moments and postures. The artist was always trying to achieve an accurate record of the characteristics, the movements and sensations of the animals in front of him. Within his œuvre, the abundance of his models is just as unequalled as is his treatment of surfaces. Bugatti’s use of forms keeps oscillating between Naturalism and Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism, yet he still retains the sincere curiosity and opulence characteristic of the Belle Époque. The earnestness and depth with which he captured the animal world in his works makes him a unique figure in the history of art.

Born in Milan as son of the eccentric furniture designer, Carlo Bugatti, Rembrandt grew up in a highly artistic environment. Giovanni Segantini, the painter, was his uncle and the home of his parents was frequented by celebrated sculptors such as Ercole Rosa and Paul Troubetzkoy as well as famous composers, counting Puccini and Leoncavallo among them. As an adolescent Bugatti had already shown a remarkable talent for sculpture. He never attended an art academy and had his debut with a sculpture at the spring exhibition in Milan as early as 1901, at the age of 16. Exhibitions in Turin, Venice and later in Paris attracted great attention and brought the young artist instant recognition and success. Thanks to his collaboration with the Paris-based gallery-owner and equally talented bronze caster, Adrien-Aurélien Hébrard, who also duplicated models by Degas and Rodin, bronze casts of his works of the highest quality became part of many important collections. However, the experience of the First World War darkened Bugatti’s spirit. In 1916, Bugatti committed suicide in Paris. He was only 31 years old.Ten years after his death his brother used the statue of a trained elephant, which Rembrandt had made for him to serve as letter-seal, as the radiator mascot for his most ambitious car, the Bugatti »Royale«.