Shanghai Museum: “The Shape of Air: from Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia”

At the Shanghai Museum, the temporary exhibition “The Shape of Air: from Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia”
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San Cesario sul Panaro, February 27th , 2024 – From March 4th to April 14th , Pagani Automobili is bringing the temporary exhibition “The Shape of Air: from Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia” to the Shanghai Museum, the most prominent museum institution in the Shanghai municipality.

Italian cars continue to captivate entire generations because they are equipped with a special engine: a flawless fusion of science and art that has always fueled Italian creativity, exemplified by the brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci. i. Consequently, showcasing the exquisite cars crafted by Horacio Pagani at the Shanghai Museum, within the grand exhibition dedicated to Leonardo, signifies presenting the Chinese audience with a palpable testament to our prowess in conceiving, crafting, and bestowing substantive value upon human ingenuity, and consequently, upon our very existence. (Tiziana D’Angelo, Consul General of Italy in Shanghai)  

“The Shape of Air: from Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia” takes place within the framework of the Italian Design Day, the annual initiative launched by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in collaboration and with the support of the Ministry of Culture, this year centered around the theme “Manufacturing Value: inclusiveness, innovation and sustainability.

Shanghai Museum 

On the first floor, the temporary exhibition will delve into Leonardo’s pivotal role in creating the Utopia, the Hypercar that marked the third act in the history of Pagani Automobili. A fearless pursuit of beauty guided the research to find the delicate balance between form and function, a mission inherent to every designer. This principle aligns with the statement of the Renaissance artist-scientist who has always inspired the work of Horacio Pagani and his team: «Art and Science are two disciplines that can walk hand in hand.

On the ground floor, visitors will be able to relive the essential moments of Pagani Automobili’s history through the section “The Story of a Dream”, tracing the journey of Horacio Pagani from the boy who crafted balsa wood models in Argentina to the designer and builder of some of the most beloved automobiles of the last decades.

“Who is Leonardo da Vinci?” – Original works by Leonardo in Shanghai

Alongside the temporary exhibition, the showcase “Who is Leonardo da Vinci?” is dedicated to the great artist, his paintings, and drawings, juxtaposing his works with some masterpieces of Chinese art from the 10 th to the 16 th century, preserved within the collections of the Shanghai Museum. The protagonist of the exhibition is La Scapiliata, an autographed work by Leonardo from the National Gallery of Parma (Monumental complex of Pilotta).

The exhibition also features eleven precious original folia from Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus and works by his disciples, including two drawings by Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, a drawing by Francesco Melzi, and a painting by Bernardino Scapi (known as Luini), all from the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan. Additionally, two drawings by Michelangelo, a contemporary of Leonardo, come from Casa Buonarroti in Florence.  

The Italian collection engages in a dialogue with some masterpieces from the Shanghai Museum, works by illustrious Chinese painters such as Zhao Yong (c. 1289–1369), Shen Zhou (1427–1509), and Tang Yin (1470–1523).

Horacio Pagani at the exhibition’s inauguration  

On March 4th, Horacio Pagani will be in Shanghai to inaugurate the exhibition and share insights into the enduring influence that the undisputed genius of the Renaissance has always had on his and his team’s work. Pagani Automobili is indeed a creative Atelier where a community of people engages in the exercise of thought and manual skill every day, aligning with Leonardo’s philosophy, which illuminates the path to solving the great complexities of mechanics. Pagani’s ambition is to create bespoke objects that aim to achieve the pinnacle of synthesis between technological innovation and aesthetic pleasure.

 An iconic model from the history of Pagani Automobili is on display: the Zonda Cinque  

Unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show in 2009, the Zonda Cinque was designed to be the most extreme road-legal Zonda ever, limited to just five units. The project drew inspiration from the technological advancements of the Zonda R, a wild and innovative vehicle exclusively designed for the track.  

The Zonda Cinque is the first road car to adopt a carbo-titanium chassis, offering numerous advantages in terms of lightness, strength, and performance. It inherits aerodynamic solutions from the Zonda R, such as air intakes on the hoods and roof, along with new front spoilers, a redesigned adjustable rear wing, a flat bottom, and modified rear diffusers. The combination of these features allows the Cinque to generate an aerodynamic load of 750 kg (1653 lbs) at 300 km/h (186 mph).

The journey of “The Shape of Air”, from Milan to Vinci to Shanghai Museum   

The exhibition  “The Shape of Air: from Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia” is the third stage of a journey that began in Milan, continued in Leonardo’s hometown, and has now reached Asia.  

In 2022, on the occasion of the world premiere of the Pagani Utopia, the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan hosted the exhibition “The Shape of Air”. Inside the evocative Sala del Cenacolo, the new Hypercar was displayed surrounded by six original drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, creating a dual path: on one side, the extraordinary intelligence of a man capable—six centuries ago—of representing even the invisible through a series of sheets taken from the Codex Atlanticus, dedicated to studies on air and their application; on the other side, the thoughts that led the designer Horacio Pagani and his team to conceive the Utopia project. In 2023, in Vinci, the eponymous book was presented, a work that aims to delve into the Utopia project and the connection between the Renaissance artist and the element of air. The next chapter will unfold at the Shanghai Museum, where the exhibition “The Shape of Air” will accompany the display “Who is Leonardo da Vinci?”  

This union of Art, Science and Technology offers a unique visiting experience: Leonardo’s multifaceted and curious mind is an example of boundless genius, while the Utopia project embodies ingenuity in automotive design. Both represent mastery, vision, and innovation, demonstrating that these extraordinary skills transcend epochs and disciplines.(Luigi Ganzerli, Communication Supervisor & Project Manager of Pagani Automobili)

You can find more information about the unveiling event of the Pagani Utopia at this link.

You can discover the details of the publication Utopia. The Shape of Air — From Leonardo da Vinci to Pagani Utopia by Pietro C. Marani, Robert Puyal and Horacio Pagani at this link.

You can find more information about the Pagani Utopia at this link