May 27–October 9, 2016

Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975

  • 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Collection of Bernard and Joan Carl. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1954 Alfa Romeo BAT 7. The Blackhawk Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis. Collection of James E. Petersen, Jr. Photograph © 2016 Michael Furman

  • Italian car experts Winston Goodfellow, Robert Cumberford, Donald Osborne, and Bellissima! guest curator Ken Gross discuss all things Italian car during an Expert Panel Discussion held at the Frist on August 6, 2016. Image © 2016 Bruce Sweetman

  • 1968 Bizzarrini 5300 Strada. Collection of Don Meluzio. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1952 Lancia B52 Aurelia PF200 Spyder. Collection of Linda and Bill Pope. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1955 Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato. Collection of David Sydorick. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1973 MV Agusta 750 Sport. Collection of Peter Matthew Calles. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • Rolling into the galleries

  • 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic. Collection of Paul Gould. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1946 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale. Collection of Christopher Ohrstrom. Image © 2016 Joe Wiecha

  • 1950 Cisitalia 202 SC. The Collier Collection @ The Revs Institute®. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • Mark Lambert, restoration mechanic and automotive historian, discusses Bellissima!

  • 1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport. Collection of Somer and Loyce Hooker. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1955 Alfa Romeo BAT 9. The Blackhawk Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1955 Chrysler Ghia Gilda. Collection of Scott Grundfor and Kathleen Redmond. Photograph © 2016 Michael Furman

  • 1952 Cunningham C3 Continental. The Collier Collection @ The Revs Institute®. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1953 Alfa Romeo BAT 5. The Blackhawk Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero. The XJ Wang Collection. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1957 Moto Guzzi V-8. Collection of the Gilbert Family. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Pininfarina Series II Aerodinamico. Collection of Bernard and Joan Carl. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1963 Chrysler Turbine Car. Collection of FCA. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1966 Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti. Collection of Luigi Chinetti Trust. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1966 Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti. Collection of Luigi Chinetti Trust. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt

  • 1970 Lamborghini Miura S. Collection of Morrie’s Classic Cars, LLC. Image © 2016 Peter Harholdt


Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 celebrates the visual dynamism and spirit of innovation characterizing Italian coachbuilt cars, concept cars and motorcycles produced during the post–World War II economic revival. Returning to the Frist Art Museum after the 2013 presentation of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, automotive authority and guest curator Ken Gross has chosen 19 automobiles and 3 motorcycles from private collections and museums that are among the finest examples of Italian automotive design, including vehicles by Alfa Romeo, Bizzarrini, Ducati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lancia and Maserati. With the ultra-rare Alfa Romeo BAT models 5, 7 and 9 from the 1950s and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, this all-star assembly offers surprises for even the most knowledgeable car aficionados. These powerful and extraordinary cars exemplify the sexy and streamlined Italian design language that propelled Italy to the forefront of automotive design internationally.

After World War II, Italian automobile designers began to create sleek, low-slung berlinettas (coupes) that would win postwar races and inspire a legion of stunning road-going cars. New companies like Cisitalia and Ferrari used the resumption of auto racing as a platform to begin producing stylish cars that soon caught the attention of wealthy glitterati, movie stars, and influential industrialists. These clients relished the idea of exclusive, often bespoke automobiles, with powerful engines and advanced styling. Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, and smaller Italian carmakers soon followed suit; Ferruccio Lamborghini created a grand touring Berlinetta that would rival Ferrari’s.

With their startling, often sensual designs, Italian cars from the mid-century had an immense influence on the automotive industry around the world. The successful racing efforts of Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo ensured that Italian automakers dominated international competition. Lessons from racing were applied to the design of road cars and Italy’s auto industry helped lead an international styling renaissance. In 1954, Road & Track declared, “The Italian influence leads the automotive design world. It remains consistent, commanding, spirited and graceful.”

Coach builders worked with carmakers in Italy as well as those in countries like England and Spain. In the United States, Italians designed and built bodies for production cars like Nash, Hudson and even Cadillac. Chrysler hired Italian designers to build a series of dramatically modern concept cars, including Firebirds and Firearrows. Their so-called “Forward Look” styling intrigued American buyers and influenced many later production models.

Exhibition Organization

Bella Berlinettas
1950 Cisitalia 202 SC
1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic
1955 Maserati A6G 2000 Zagato

Berlinettas: The BATs
1953 Alfa Romeo BAT 5
1954 Alfa Romeo BAT 7
1955 Alfa Romeo BAT 9

Styling Gems
1946 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Speciale
1952 Lancia B52 Aurelia PF200 Spider
1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica

Il Ultimo
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO

Wedge-Shaped Cars
1955 Chrysler Ghia Gilda
1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero
1966 Ferrari 365 P Tre Posti

Italian and American Excitement
1952 Cunningham C3 Continental
1955 Lincoln Indianapolis
1963 Chrysler Turbine Car

Mid-Engine Marvels
1963 ATS 2500 GT
1968 Bizzarrini 5300 Strada
1970 Lamborghini Miura S

On Two Wheels
1957 Moto Guzzi V-8
1973 MV Agusta 750 Sport
1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport


The WWII Aeronautics Connection
Many renowned Italian auto designers looked to the aircraft industry for inspiration. A number of talented Italian designers and engineers worked in aviation and other non-auto related fields during WWII before going on to become well known for their innovations in automobile design after the war:

• Giovanni Savonuzzi worked for Fiat Aviation before his auto industry efforts. So did Dante Giacosa.
• Carrozzeria Touring (Felice Bianchi Anderloni) built aircraft bodies during WWII.
• Enzo Ferrari manufactured machine tools before he built his own cars.
• The decline of the Italian aircraft industry with companies like Reggiane/Caproni after the war meant that a number of engineers transitioned into auto engineering.
• Walter Salvarani designed propeller gears at Reggiane, and used the same principles on gearboxes for Ferrari.

With thanks to Ken Gross for this interesting information.

Exhibition Guest Curator
Ken Gross has served as Guest Curator for many exhibitions of extraordinary automobiles in fine art museums, including: The Allure of the Automobile (High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2010, and the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, 2011); Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile (Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, 2012), Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles (Frist Art Museum, Nashville, 2013); Porsche By Design: Seducing Speed (North Carolina Museum of Art, 2013); and Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, 2014, and Indianapolis Museum of Art, 2015).

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue published by Rizzoli.

• Same-day and advance tickets may be purchased on site at the Frist Art Museum.
• Frist Art Museum Members may reserve tickets online by CLICKING HERE.
• If you are interested in purchasing a hotel package that includes tickets to both the Bellissima! and Macchine Italiane (see below) exhibitions as well as hotel accomodations, please visit the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation's website

Photography is allowed in this exhibition (no flash or tripods)

Reciprocal Admission Discount Offer at Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum
The exhibition Macchine Italiane: A Tour of Italy’s Motoring Spirit, featuring more than three dozen vehicles, including cars, motorcycles and bicycles will be concurrently on display at Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum from May 26, 2016, through May 22, 2017. Following up on the success of their 2013 collaboration during the run of the Frist Art Museum’s Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, the Frist Art Museum and Lane Motor Museum will once again offer reciprocal admission discounts. Visitors to the Frist will receive 50% off all adult ticket prices at the Lane by showing a Frist Art Museum admission ticket through May 22, 2017. Visitors to the Lane will receive the same discount offer at the Frist by showing an admission ticket from the Lane through October 9, 2016. Members of either the Frist or Lane will receive free admission at both museums when membership cards are presented. Watch a short video to learn more about the Macchine Italiane exhibition.

Car Club Sundays
On select Sundays during the run of Bellissima!, car clubs will be able to drive their collectible vehicles to the Frist Art Museum and enter the Frist Art Museum parking lot at 11:30 a.m. before it opens to the general public. (The building opens at noon.) At noon, car club members can enjoy their pre-ordered boxed lunches in the Frist Art Museum’s Rechter Room, and then be among the first visitors to see this one-of-a-kind exhibition when the galleries open at 1:00 p.m.

Car clubs wishing to reserve a Sunday are invited to contact Frist Art Museum Scheduling Coordinator Emily Jenkins (615.744.3247 / to make arrangements for the group’s lunches, tickets and discounted parking. Groups of 10–50: $25.00 per person. The price includes pre-ordered box lunches and gallery admission for groups of 10 or more; limit one car club per Sunday. Download a flyer with more information about Car Club Sundays

There are also opportunities to host more elaborate private events—receptions and seated dinners, for example. Clubs wishing to host such events are invited to contact Frist Art Museum Special Events Director Karen Gwaltney (615.744.3322 / to discuss venue rental event details. Learn more about venue rental opportunities at the Frist Art Museum


Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945–1975 was organized by the Frist Art Museum with guest curator Ken Gross.

Connect with us @FristCenter, with #FristAutos2016


Special thanks to the Friends of Italian Art for their support of this exhibition:

Anderson Benson Insurance
Barbara and Jack Bovender
Sara and Richard Bovender
LaDonna Y. Boyd
Tom and Ann Curtis
Diversified Trust
Rick and Sarah English
Dodie and Carl George
Gresham, Smith and Partners
Roger and Genma Holmes
Mark Lambert & Lambert Auto, Nashville
Jana Lisle Parham Wealth Management of UBS
Friends of Mark H. McCann, Sr.
   in honor of Mark H. McCann, Sr. (Montford Point Marine,
   USMC 1943–1946, Congressional Gold Medal Recipient)
Mr. and Mrs. Martin F. McNamara III
J. David Miller, Sagemark Consulting Private Wealth Services
Nashville Motorcycle Repair
Paramore Digital
R.C. Mathews Contractor, LLC
Michael P. Ralsky, GlobalGR
Jim and Jan Ramsey
Jess and Betty Settle
The Tom Smith Family
Brenda and Joe Steakley
Tuck Hinton Architects
David Jon Walker and Family, Rhealistic Design


Bovender Family

Presenting Sponsors

HCA Tri-Star

Platinum Sponsor


Supporting Sponsor

Tom Smith Family

With additional support from

Anderson Benson (no tag)

Wedge-Shaped Gallery Sponsor

Sports Car Digest

Media Sponsor

Union Station

Hospitality Sponsor


Supported in part by


Supported in part by

NEA Artworks

Supported in part by

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