Andy Warhol’s Top Gear Exhibition

Jeremy Clarkson would be proud to own one of these masterpieces

Its difficult to imagine the Pop Artist Andy Warhol as a automotive obsessive but a current exhibition at the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey from 6 March 2012, is set to shed light on Warhol and his relationship to cars and trucks. Over the years, he created more than 40 pieces of art, including drawings from the 1940s and ’50s, and paintings and prints from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, all feature cars as the main subject. The exhibit highlights Warhol’s famous BMW M1 Car commissioned in 1979 for the BMW’s “Art Car” series. The German manufacturers also commissioned works by well known contemporary artists such as, Damien Hirst,Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. A video of Warhol painting the car in 23 minutes, is part of the exhibition.

The main gallery display shows his first vehicle related drawing which was created while still a student in1946 at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University). When he moved to New York City in June 1949, Warhol began a career in advertising, working as a commercial artist. Another series of drawings features attractive girls standing next to a 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible, This is in his early “blotted-line”style, which would win him many commissions and awards. In the 1960s, Warhol had moved on to creating fine art. In 1962, he chose cars as a subject once again. More notably ,his love of Cadillacs, as seen in the paintings, “Seven Cadillacs” and “Twelve Cadillacs” (both 1962) both on display in the exhibition. The exhibit also features several pieces from Warhol’s 1962-63 “Death and Disaster” series, which includes several large-scale screen-print images of horrific car accidents.

Originally opened in 1931, the Montclair Art Museum recently renamed Marion Mann Roberts Gallery is devoted to rotating selections of modern and  contemporary art from the early twentieth century to the present. Contrasting views of urban life and nature are especially prevalent. Numerous assembled artists emphasize modern and contemporary art’s multiculturalism through the diverse scope of gender, heritage, style, and subject matter.

The Modern & Contemporary Art Collection includes work by Walker Evans, Berenice Abbott, Philip Evergood, Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, Kenzo Okada, Robert Motherwell, Steve Wheeler, Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn, Garry Winogrand, Will Barnet, Milton Avery, Tony Smith, Josef Albers, Andy Warhol, Louise Nevelson, Romare Bearden, Man Ray, Dennis Oppenheim, Alice Neel, Lee Friedlander, George Tice, George McNeil, Richard Anuszkiewicz, Louise Lawler, Robert Longo, Philip Pearlstein, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, & Robert Birmelin.

As one of the most iconic and influential artists of the 20th century, Andy Warhol has helped to define America. His signature images of such American products and celebrities as Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor have become instantly recognizable, while challenging traditional and cherished distinctions: between fine and commercial art, the mechanical hand made, popular taste and high culture, repetition and singularity. In doing so, Warhol himself has attained a level of celebrity and public visibility unknown to most artists.

Yet despite the intense attention paid to Warhol since the time of his death, in 1987, his preoccuption with another American icon, the automobile, has been largely overlooked. The Montclair Art Museum now breaks new ground in presenting Warhol and Cars: American Icons, the first exhibition  to examine Warhol’s enduring fascination with automotive vehicles as products of American consumer society. Highlighting MAM’s pivotal, little known, early silkscreen painting, Twelve Cadillacs (1962), Warhol and Cars features more than 40 drawings, prints, photographs, and related archival documents on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum and private collections spanning Warhol’s career from 1946 to 1986.

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