The Great Age of American Automobiles

By taking us back half a century, "The Great Age of American Automobiles" also serves as a reminder that art surrounds us every day in commercial design. The exhibit of more than a hundred drawings provides a look at the artistry and imagination that fueled our nation's love affair with the car after World War II. From preliminary sketches to fully rendered works, the drawings present experimental concepts and designs. Some were incorporated into new models, and others never made it past the drawing board. The exhibit transcends mere car-show status. The drawings, obsessed with precision and line, are works of art in their own right. Exterior Styling Exercise, for instance, uses colored pencil to work out only the essential lines of a car body. Other drawings work with light and color (usually in watercolor and gouache) and explore the sculptural aesthetics rather than the logistical pragmatics of car design. Some artists focus on the car to the exclusion of all else, and some place the car in a context. Acknowledging a target consumer, some designers place their automotive proposals in different settings — like the elegant couple exiting a futuristic, gull-winged sports car in front of a sparkling L.A. backdrop or a relaxed couple unloading a picnic from their sedan beside a stream in a Zen garden. Also on display, five classic cars — the space-age 1959 Cadillac Cyclone and the muscular 1965 Plymouth Barracuda among them — embody aesthetic principles and represent feats of mechanical engineering. (Through June 23 at Museum of Art, 1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500.)

 
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