The Italian Automobile

Italians have long been known for their sense of style and taste. From art and architecture to food or fashion, it’s good to be Italian. So, it should come as no surprise, that in the car world Italians are known for an unparalleled aesthetic and masterful engineering. Italian car manufacturers are among the best known and most coveted the world over.
Among the most iconic of Italian cars is the Fiat 500, or Cinquecento – a diminutive yet charming car no Italian experience is complete without. The cramped coastal roads and tiny hilltop towns dictated the need for such “micro cars” for the masses. Akin to the Vespa scooter, variants of these include delivery vehicles and beachside “Jollys” alike. On a larger scale, however, Italian car manufacturers have produced some of the most innovative, exclusive and valuable automobiles of all time.
From the earliest days of automobile racing the Italian drivers and engineers were serious contenders, and their success was a matter of national pride. Italians were some of the first to participate and host international racing events. Two which remain legendary to this day, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio, were both open road racing events which ran for decades. And it’s this focus on sports cars that made famous the now household names of Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, Lamborghini and Fiat, and the lessor known, but equally as significant Abarth, OSCA, Cisitalia and Siata.
That said, the finest Italian automobiles are not simply regarded for their racing success, but also for their beauty. The consistency with which Italian manufacturers produced finely engineered cars that carried the most striking coachwork is beyond impressive.
In the 1920s and 1930s, when the automobile started to look less like a carriage and more like the future, Italian coachbuilders succeeded at making modern and elegant designs to clothe the car’s mechanics. From this came some of the World’s very best designers and coachbuilding houses, including Pinan Farina, Zagato, Touring, Vignale, Bertone, Scaglietti, Ghia, and Frua among others. Well into the post-war era, it was fashionable to have a chassis (the frame and running gear) delivered to an Italian coachbuilder for them to design and build the car’s body. Even automobiles of American or British manufacturer were sent to Italy for coachwork.
Simply put, the Italians mastered the automobile at an early age and in the decades since they have created some of the greatest cars of all time.



Car Exhibition Curated by Ron Hein, Paul Hagemen, Andrew Tymkiw


Alex Rasmussen
Anodized Aluminum is Alex Rasmussen’s métier. Alex is the third generation President of Neal Feay, a local company with an international presence. A Santa Barbara native, he his mother was an art major, and his father was an Industrial Engineering major.
Alex’s designs span custom furniture and architectural scale installations to pure sculpture, from its initial design and concept, through to cutting, anodizing and completion. He has work in private residences and luxury retail shops across the globe from Hermès to Louis Vuitton. The advent of the pandemic has given him an opportunity to work closer to home.
On loan by Neal Rasmussen is a demountable, modular pergola, the centerpiece bar on the Great Lawn. This pergola represents a collaboration of artistry and form by Alex and acclaimed architect and former Lotusland Trustee, Marc Appleton. Commissions resulting from this exhibition will include a benefit to Lotusland.
View and purchase select pieces of the art in Lotusland’s online auction.


Chris Wyrick
Chris Wyrick is a painter from Charleston, SC. He studied classics, geology, religion, and painting at St. John’s College, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), and Davidson College. He worked as an apprentice to painter Jack Beal in New York City and studied at the New York Academy of Art before receiving his MFA in drawing and painting from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. He relocated his studio to Los Angeles in 2012.
Chris was introduced to gardening by his mother at a young age and his passion for botany was further inspired by his time spent trekking in the wilderness of the south and southwest US. His recent botanical murals, featured in Architectural Digest, see his love of art and nature combining in a new form of environmental
installation. Collaborating with the team at Lotusland to create site specific installations in the gardens is a perfect realization of his vision.
Wyrick works in a wide variety of media and his artwork draws inspiration from many sources. His paintings are often based in natural forms, though he also works with images from photography and film. He embraces the dialectic of collaboration in the creative process. View and purchase select pieces from the art on display in the online auction.