Conceived by Jean-Marc Borel

A unique collection

Born under the hammer

Giancarlo Guerra (L) with Sergio Scaglietti (R)
Afro Gibellini
Oriello Leonardi

Of Modena’s greatest Master Coach builders

The history of Modena’s Master Coach builders is one of the most fascinating but also one of the least known. This is the extraordinary story of incomparable craftsmen who have created iconic masterpieces with their passion and talent.

It is unquestionably corroborated by the art market as the five most expensive cars sold in the world are all and without exception, the work of the Modena’s Master Coach builders.

Just like Renaissance sculptors, their coach works are entirely shaped by hand: they use only hammers, a piece of tree trunk, a sack of sand, some pairs of shears and an iron work table … all without the involvement of designers. Imagine the prodigious talent of these exceptional artists who have elevated coach building to an art form.

In Modena the creation of coach builders used to be an authentic work of art solely based upon pure manual ability. This perfection of execution and extraordinary creativity have given life to a true art form specific to Modena - the fruit of the passion of these genius coach builders. What is left today of their marvellous adventure?

Industrial change and the introduction of composite materials in the 1970s led to the slow decline of this activity and the disappearance of most coach builders from Modena. All their creations, however, have ended up on the four corners of the earth in the most prestigious private collections.

In Modena, land of motors and home of this activity, there is no place dedicated to the memory of this heroic page of the History of Cars. No archive on Modena coach builders has been kept, nor have any of their creations. Even photographs showing this adventure are extremely rare.

How can we permit future generations to discover this unique art form belonging to an era that has now gone forever but is part of the heritage of this region?

If what holds true for figurative art was effective for the world of coach building, where works are always associated with their creators, then Giancarlo Guerra, Afro Gibellini and Oriello Leonardi would be as well known as the GTOs, Californias, Testarossas they built with their own hands at the Carrozzeria Scaglietti.

These virtuoso artists have not only created and built the bodies of all the five Modena masterpieces, the most researched in history but also no less than twenty among the thirty cars that dominate today’s automotive art market.

It is no coincidence that an American journalist has defined Giancarlo Guerra the living Michelangelo.

Even though it does not always mean immediate recognition, the Master Coach builders’ talent has offered to the History of Cars its most emblematic creations and finally it will be dedicated to the conservation and promotion of this heritage.

It is the endeavours of these three Masters, widely acknowledged as being the benchmark for Modena Coach building, that have led to the launch of the ModenArt project.

These artists, without any financial aim, just simply to show an era that has disappeared, have devoted their experience, skills and passion to put together a collection that is unique in the world. With the sole purpose of keeping the memory alive, this collection will bring together these artists’ original works that are identical to those they created at the time.

All the models have been built with the same equipment, techniques and, above all, the same hands that shaped them in the past.
The aim of this fantastic project is to preserve this glorious heritage and pass on to future generations the greatest masterpieces of style among Modena cars.

The first exhibition of the marvellous creations by these Master Coach builders is scheduled for this year. It will be called “ModenArt: the Sculptors of Movement”.

The event curated by Philippe Daverio will take place in October 2019. Modena will put one of its most prestigious locations at the disposal of this initiative: the San Carlo church. This choice is very emblematic because never before has such a place honoured the art of the automobile.

The exhibition will enable visitors to discover the unique works created and personally signed by these artists and never before shown in public. Aluminium coachworks, as well as ‘filone’ specific to the Modena school of coach building, will be exhibited as real and authentic works of art.

In sculpture the statue takes shape directly due to the blows of its sculptor’s chisel. Similarly in Modena, during the realisation of the ‘filone’ the style of the coachwork is born thanks to the blows of the Master Coach builder’s hammer.

During this event, visitors will be able to admire works of art signed by their own creators as well as the ‘filone’ and aluminium coach works of several cult works born in Modena: the Ferrari 250 GTO prototype, the GTOs 62 and 64, the 500 Mondial, the 250 GT Nembo Spider, the Maserati 151/3 and the Cobra Daytona.

ModenArt will be an invitation for everybody to undertake a marvellous journey to discover real geniuses with unsurpassed talent and great modesty, whose works enjoy international fame.

It is essential to pay tribute but, above all, show our gratitude, to this exceptional epoch of the Modena Coach builders, authors of these extraordinary masterpieces.

They are the quintessence of a land and an era that celebrated beauty, creativity, dreams and optimism so much so that the coachwork of a car was turned into a real work of art.

Nothing is impossible when talent and willingness to cooperate come together in a just and noble cause.

Philippe Daverio with Afro Gibellini
San Carlo church Modena

10th - 20th October 2019

San Carlo Church, Via San Carlo, 7, Modena, Italy