The Art of Automotive Design Showcased at Springfield Museums

“Automotive design is truly an art form,” said Maggie C. North, art curator at Springfield Museums, explaining that a new exhibit at the D’Amour Art Gallery is both a celebration of the technical competence of talented painters as well as an exploration of automotive design.

CHANDELIER: Realism and hyperrealism in contemporary painting of automobiles and motorcycles – a traveling exhibition consisting of over 50 paintings by 14 of today’s realistic and hyperrealistic artists who specialize in automobiles and motorcycles as their main subject – is open until 23 August.

The title of the exhibition speaks of the style of painting and the subject that visitors can expect to see. “Using photographs as references, realistic and hyperrealistic artists create incredibly naturalistic images,” North said.

The exhibition focuses on the work of artists who apply their realistic techniques to automotive subjects. “Many are drawn to the technical challenge of representing the polished or reflective surfaces of cars and motorcycles,” she said.

The exhibit was produced by David J. Wagner, LLC

“Like the shiny automobiles and motorcycles they portrayed, the paintings of these new age artists can be characterized by the luster that permeates their work,” he wrote.

Some paints are finished with a gloss varnish, others use high contrast colors, and others are painted on aluminum to achieve a certain sheen.

“This exhibit is both a celebration of the technical skills of talented painters as well as an exploration of automotive design,” said North.

Although the works on display represent a range of vehicles ranging from a 1937 Oldsmobile to a 2013 Harley-Davidson, many of the artists on display focus on vehicles produced around the mid-20th century or earlier.

“In the 1940s, automakers in the United States began to incorporate features like running boards and headlights into artfully designed vehicle bodies,” North said. “Coinciding with the expansion of the interstate highway system, car sales have increased and innovators have added fun and stylish details such as chrome accents and tail fins. As many of LUSTER’s works demonstrate, the innovative designs of mid-century automakers continue to fascinate and inspire fine artists today.

Many of the artists featured in LUSTER are passionate about cars or motorcycles. Colorado artist Marc G. Jone ‘grew up repairing and rebuilding cars in his family’s garage, and Oregon-based painter Guenevere Schwien started motorcycling in college. “However, all of the artists in the show are drawn to the formal qualities of the engines, pipes, polished bodies and reflective surfaces,” said North. “A passion for vehicles, coupled with a desire to explore light, form and color, are factors that drive many contemporary automotive artists. “

Much like the clothes people choose or the way they decorate their homes, cars have the power to help people make a statement. “Although some people think of cars simply as a form of transportation, the most stylish vehicles attract crowds at auto shows or are displayed in museum exhibits,” she explained. “The artwork presented in LUSTER draws on a range of associations with cars. In America, cars and motorcycles are often associated with freedom, mobility, adventure, and patriotism.

The visual history of car and motorcycle design finds special significance in Springfield, a city that has played a key role in the history of automobile and motorcycle production. In addition to being the site of Charles and J. Frank Duryea’s trial of the first successful American gasoline vehicle in 1893, Springfield was home to the Knox Automobile Company, a factory of the Stevens-Duryea Company, the Atlas Motor Car Company , a major Rolls-Royce manufacturing plant and the Indian Motorcycle Company. North invites visitors to enjoy this art exhibit as well as the collection of classic Indian cars and motorcycles on display at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

For over 100 years, cars and motorcycles have not only roamed America’s streets and highways, but have also played a significant role in movies, top forty musical hits, and the fine art, she explained. .

“Cars and motorcycles are powerful machines that can also be beautiful. Although I am not a car collector myself, I can imagine that owning a beautiful automobile is a bit like owning a beautiful painting: both are man-made constructions that reflect the aspirations of their creators and tell us something. thing about the company in which they were made, ”she said. noted.

Visitors viewing this exhibit will also notice a selection of auto-related songs performed in the gallery. These songs and the works on display testify to the integration of cars into American daily life and art.

The paintings in the exhibit range from 15 inches high by 24 inches wide to 48 inches high by 96 inches wide. It features oil, acrylic and watercolors used on surfaces like canvas, aluminum and wood panels.

“We are delighted to celebrate the reopening of the museums through this special exhibition of exceptional paintings of cars and motorcycles,” said Heather Haskell, Director of Art Museums and Vice President of Springfield Museums. “The performances are outstanding examples of photorealism and hyperrealism and breathtaking in their detail.”

She also suggested visitors explore the Contemporary Gallery where they will find other examples of photorealism, including a large painting by American artist Don Eddy depicting a Volkswagen, one of her favorite subjects to paint in the 1970s. .

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Ethel Nester

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