The School of Visual Arts (SVA) is hosting a lecture on women designers who influenced the blueprint of the modern automobile. "Women and Cars" explores the historical and stylistic development of the car through the women who took it from its humble beginnings as a horseless carriage to the "objet de luxe of the 1920s." Conducted by design writer Russell Flinchum, Associate Professor at the College of Design at North Carolina State University, the lecture is set to honor former SVA faculty member and design critic Phil Patton whose fascination with cars informed a large part of his writing career. Flinch plans to look at the "concours d'elegance" by featuring haute couture clothing alongside equally chic cars. In the post-war period, being seen to have "good taste" was no more evident in the cars of General Motors. Under the "GM System," design executive Harley Earl created an automobile aesthetic that we've come to associate with a certain period in American history. To many, the 1950s "Damsels in Design" advertisements created by Earl are seen as the starting point for examining women's contributions to the modern automobile. The "damsels" were nine women designers from Pratt Institute that Earl selected to model with GM cars, and their presence was meant to appeal to women who managed their household's purchases. By going back in the archives, SVA is exploring a period in time that is reflective of a revolutionary decade in automobile history. The talk is set to take place Tuesday, March 22 at the SVA Department of Design Research, Writing and Criticism (136 West 21st Street).
Posts tagged with "Automotive Design":
What do you do if you have an array of 26 show-worthy Italian motorcycles? Hopefully what designer, artist manager, and film producer Stuart Parr did. He paired up with real estate magnate Aby Rosen—no stranger to art and relatively fresh off his kerfuffle with the Picasso tapestry, L’Affaire Tricorne. Together they are using an empty space—the ground floor at 285 Madison Avenue—to display the high-design bikes publicly. While it's not a particularly extensive collection, it does cut a wide stroke through the Italian majors: Ducati, MV Agusta, Benelli, Laverda, and Magni. One can see true artistry and design in these machines: cooling fins on engine blocks, sumptuous curves of petrol tanks, and frames that strive for endurance and speed. Art of the Italian Two Wheel runs until July 18. Find more information on the exhibit here.
When the Future had Fins: American Automotive Designs and Concepts, 1959-1973 Christopher West Mount Gallery, Pacific Design Center 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA Through May 20 Once upon a time the American car industry was king. Nothing captures the prestige, aspirations, and mythology of Detroit’s heyday quite like the working sketches and drawings used to develop and promote the land boats we used to call automobiles. A new show at Christopher W. Mount Gallery focuses on sketches from designers at the “Big Three”—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—from 1959 to 1973, when those companies were as important as Google, Apple, and Facebook. The sleek, colorful cars with their dynamic angles and large hoods capture the sexiness and muscle that is long gone in today’s car culture. Visionaries like Ford’s John Samsen and GM’s Bill Michalak had a mastery and an expressive craftsmanship on paper that is far removed from the digitized and sanitized world of 21st century rendering.
In what sounds like a flashback to the turn of the 20th century, curious New Yorkers peered inquisitively at a new horseless carriage model on display at the New York International Auto Show. The old-timey vehicle is actually a high-tech electric vehicle at the center of the heated fight to ban horse carriages from Central Park in New York City. Just feet from the buffed and polished BMWs and Aston Martins, the eight-seat “Horseless eCarriage” made its global debut. The prototype is designed as an homage to brass-era vehicles, with plenty of brass detailing, tufted leather seats, and an over-sized windshield. It even sported some classic books on New York City history tucked into a vintage glove compartment. “My distinct honor and challenge has been to design a vehicle that celebrates the nostalgia and romance of the early 1900s, while eliminating a lot of the not-so great qualities of that time,” said Jason Wenig, who designed the vehicle. He said he took the style of the time, but created a car that has the comfort and technical capabilities of today’s automobile. This prototype was commissioned by New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets (NYClass), a group which has been leading the charge to ban horse carriages, and just happened to donate $1.3 million to Bill de Blasio’s mayoral campaign. As mayor, de Blasio has pledged to ban the carriages and replace them with something like the eCarriage. But doing so won’t be easy. He’s facing sustained backlash from carriage drivers, the press, locals, and even Liam Neeson who expressed his support for horse carriages in a recent New York Times op-ed. And, for now, all that backlash has reportedly stalled the mayor’s plans. De Blasio still contends that the carriages will be gone by year's end. If that does happen, it still remains to be seen if the over-size wheels of the Horseless eCarriage—or something like it—will follow in the horse’s footsteps.