An image of Bugatti Type 35

James Angus

(Australia, United States of America 1970 – )

Bugatti Type 35

Not on display
Further information

James Angus’s sculptures usually find their subject in things that already exist in the world. His works can be divided into two main spheres, natural creatures and man-made, often architectural structures or manufactured forms. Living things are realised in versions that emphasise their sculptural nature, and inanimate objects are shifted through a series of propositions about physics, gravity and geometry. In ‘Manta Ray’ 2002, the horizontal mass and undulating curves of the creature are eerily still and perfectly hydrodynamic. In ‘Seagram Building’ 2000, a slightly arching version of the modernist icon lies displaced on the floor. Its curving profile is a subtle distortion that is mathematically correct, but physically improbable and visually disorienting. For ‘Bugatti Type 35’ Angus has taken one of the most iconic racing cars of the 20th century, replicated it, but also distorted it through a gravitational shift 30 degrees to the right.

While Angus’s art is not minimal, it shares minimalism’s interest in primary structures and physical presence, and suggests that their source may be found in much earlier developments in modernist architecture and design such as the use of serial repeated forms, manufactured units, structuring grids and highly finished surfaces. The physical and perceptual disorientation of the sculptures, achieved through a mathematically correct displacement of rational geometry, bends our experience of these familiar iconic objects. This immaculate car from the 1920s designed for speed, an ultimate symbol of the modern age and mechanical progress, can no longer support itself upright and tips over, strangely drawn out, its circular wheels becoming ellipses. It seems the real manifestation of the famous early 20th century image by French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue of a car speeding past, the limitations of photography’s technology seemingly making its wheels stretch.

Bugatti’s car was exceptional because of the visionary solutions he devised for engineering problems. In part the originality of Bugatti’s vision can be attributed to his art school training and artistic talent before he entered into car design. Angus retrieves this immaculately engineered machine and returns it to being art, through both replication and intervention. Angus proposes alternate perceptual models that are inherent in geometry’s rigorous spatial logic and mathematical precision, suggesting other ways, at least in sculptural form, in which we may view the world.

steel, aluminium, fiberglass, rubber, leather, automotive lacquer
193.0 x 115.0 x 366.0 cm
Purchased with funds provided by Andrew Cameron, the Contemporary Collection Benefactors and the Rudy Komon Memorial Fund 2006
Accession number
© James Angus, Courtesy Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery