With its 420 horsepower, the Maserati 450s was the most powerful sports car of its era and only ten copies were made between 1956 and 1958. Produced at the same time, the Testa Rossa is one of today’s highest quoted Ferrari on the market. Wim Delvoye tackled these legends of the automotive world to create these two pieces. Obviously, these are not the original cars; the Maserati is an identical copy and the Ferrari a scale model. Originally, the 450s was equipped with an aluminium chassis, an ideal material for embossing. The motifs used are drawn from the ornamental repertoire of Islamic arts and were placed on the cars by Iranian craftsmen. Elements of calligraphy —such as “Isra and Mi’raj”, which describe two episodes of the life of the Prophet Muhammad— join geometric forms and flower style motifs on the chassis of the Maserati. The artist invites us to experiance an encounter between the East and the West, and between technology and craftsmanship.
Exoticism always held a central place in the work of Wim Delvoye. In the early nineties, he used furniture made in Java in a style imitating that of early 17th-century Dutch furniture (Installation with 2 gas cannisters and 29 saw blades, 1990, collection of the RMFAB). He also commissioned several pieces made by Indonesian craftsmen before settling in China in the early 2000s. The project with the Maserati 450s and the Ferrari Testa Rossa reflects his interest in a new destination: Iran. The artist recently settled in the city of Kashan, 200 kilometres south of Tehran, where he is renovating a set of old houses.