FLAMINIO BERTONI

(1903-1964)

Flaminio Bertoni: portrait

He was born in Varese, northern Italy, in 1903 and studied at the Francesco Daverio technical school where he graduated in 1918.
Following the death of his father, he broke off his studies and found a job as a joiner’s apprentice at the local body maker’s “Carrozzeria Macchi” before moving to the tinker’s department, where his passion for automobiles took off.
In 1923, thanks to his considerable talent for drawing, he was transferred to the planning department of Macchi Industries where a visiting team of technicians from France invited him to Paris. From then on his life was shared between Italy and France.
In 1929, after a brief period in Paris and as a result of dissatisfaction with the management, he quitted Macchi and opened his own workshop of drawings and projects.
In 1932 he was hired by CitroŽn for which in 1934 he created the Traction Avant in plasticine: for the first time in history a model of a car was realized instead of on paper. At The CitroŽn he also begun to work on a new car, the TPV (2 CV) presented in 1948 at the Paris Salon de l'Automobile and which became a word phenomenon.
At about the same time (1935) one of his previous designs for a "total view" bus with cabin above the engine was built by the Italian firm Baroffio.
In 1949 he obtained a degree in architecture, starting his architectural activities with various projects in Paris and suburbs. In the field of architecture he patented in 1956 a novel system for the construction of family houses thanks to which over 1000 woud be built in Saint Louis USA in only 100 days.
In 1955 his design masterpiece, the DS 19 , was presented at the Salon de l’Automobile in Paris. As well as marking this century’s automobile history, this event placed Bertoni among the Masters of Design. When the CitroŽn DS 19 was shown at the “Triennale ” in Milan it obtained the prize for best industrial work of art.
In 1956 Bertoni the architect invented a new system of building family houses that led to the construction of 1,000 houses in 100 days in Saint Louis in the USA.
In his artistic career he was twice awarded the first prize for drawing and sculpture, during the International Free Art Show in Paris in 1953 and 1954, and his sculptures again were awarded first prize in 1959 and 1962.
In 1961 his last work as a designer, the CitroŽn Ami 6, was produced and the French Minister for Culture, the Nobel Prize Winner Andrť Malraux, nominated him Master of the Order of Arts and Letters of the French Republic. It was the fair recognition to a man who had given so much to French culture.
He fell sick with hepatitis and died in Paris in 1964, far away from Italy and disowned by Italian people who loved his 2CV and DS' armonious lines whithout knowing that the author was one of them.