The Shape of Air - From Leonardo to Pagani Utopia

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Art & Science

Art and science are an inseparable combination, according to Leonardo da Vinci, and it’s his principle that has been the inspiration behind Pagani Automobili’s entire existence. The fruits of this union are the hypercars that perfectly balance design work and pure technology. They’re cars that can move you, something only art can do. This is exactly what has set the Pagani brand apart since it was founded in 1998. Its challenge was ambitious: create high-performance cars that could even captivate people who, at first glance, weren’t interested in engines. Because beauty is universal.
The Atelier in San Cesario sul Panaro first launched the challenge with the Zonda C12, presented in Geneva before an amazed audience, then again in 2011 with the Huayra, asserting a high-level of expertise in the field of composite materials. Finally, last September, with the Utopia, an ode to beauty and the full expression of this dualism of art and science that, according to Leonardo da Vinci, “go hand in hand”. And what better tribute could be paid to this, the third chapter in Pagani’s history, than setting it in Milan, in the Museum of Science and Technology, where the new hypercar was presented to the public, surrounded by the original drawings made by the genius from Tuscany.
It was a historic event that saw an audience of colleagues, clients, dealers and suppliers, gathering around the new Utopia. A group that, over these last 25 years, have contributed to making Pagani Automobili a worldwide brand, one that moves people.


The alchemy of pleasure, the equation of beauty… This was to be the new Pagani hypercar. With a brief like this and such high ambitions, what name could be chosen for the car that would embody them? ‘Utopia’… For the philosopher Thomas More in 1516, Utopia was a place that did not exist, and ever since the name has been given to the idealized places of which we dream. But for those who make their own future, for creators, utopia exists, it is ‘merely’ a case of finding it!

Photographs by Paolo Carlini

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was able to represent even the invisible, as he demonstrated when depicting the “existence of nothingness”, that infinite interstitial expanse surrounding all objects in contact with the air. Air, together with water, was one of the four elements (water, earth, fire and air) that most intrigued Leonardo and which he attempted to represent in its various movements and manifestations.

Original texts by Pietro C. Marani
Curator of Leonardo’s Drawings at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana,
Full Professor of History of Modern Art, Polytechnic University of Milan

Images from Codex Atlanticus
© Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana / Mondadori Portfolio