I love design and styling. Even if this exhibition wasn’t related to our appreciation of fiberglass cars in significant ways, I would have sought this information out for its own sake.
I have always viewed cars from the 1930’s as works of art. Coachbuilders were designers that blended style and grace and created automobiles that were the grandest I’ve ever seen. What’s interesting about the 1951 MOMA exhibit, from my perspective, is its focus on cars as “art” – and the fact that it was the first exhibit that I’m aware of that did so.
Concours d’Elegance events can be considered showcasing cars for their beauty as well. From what I can tell, the Concours d’Elegance events began in postwar Europe. There may be earlier ones, but the first I can find reference to is the Monte Carlo Concours in 1949. America’s first was the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that Stirling Edwards started in 1951. Concours celebrate cars in a variety of ways. MOMA celebrated them for their aesthetic beauty and mechanical functionality.
Viewing Cars as Forms of Art in Recent Years:
Recently, a few museums have put together wonderful shows along the theme of “cars as art”. Some of the ones I recall are:
* Curves of Steel: Streamlined Automobile Design: In April of 2007, The Phoenix Art Museum featured an exhibit focusing on streamlining and aerodynamics and their effect on automotive styling in the 20th century.
* Moving Beauty: 1995 exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts focusing on Classic Car Automobile Design
* The Allure of the Automobile: High Museum of Art in Atlanta: This show is currently on-going and our friend Ken Gross had a strong hand in making this event happen. Here’s a website for a recent review: Click Here
But for me, the Museum of Modern Art in 1951 was first. It focused on only 8 automobiles, and one of them was the 1946 Cisitalia. When you open up the catalog from 1951, it states:
“An exhibition concerned with the aesthetics of motorcar design, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, autumn 1951”
The catalog also credits those supporting the exhibition:
“The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the Ford Motor Company, The Studebaker Corporation, Willys-Overland Motors, Inc., and the individuals who have lent automobiles.”
8 Automobile Exhibit Coverage on Jalopy Journal:
Our good friends at the Jalopy Journal recently highlighted parts of the catalog, and the exhibit as well. Click here to read more of the overall exhibit back in 1951. For this story, I want to focus only on the 1946 Cisitalia 202 Coupe that was in the exhibition.
When you study the pictures in the gallery below, you’ll be looking at a 1949 Cisitalia 202 Coupe. As reported in the exhibition booklet, the car was designed and first built in 1946 – which makes it a very early postwar sports car! As you review the pictures, you’ll notice something that Brandon Kunicki has already pointed out in our Forgotten Fiberglass forum in the “Main Discussion Area”.
That is, some Cisitalias have large trunks – others have a hatch for a spare. Not sure if this was an option or an evolution of the design, so research will continue. Thanks for pointing out this difference, Brandon! Let’s see if we can find some more differences between the Cisitalia 202 Coupe and Bill Burke’s Allied Swallow – a near perfect copy.
Hope you enjoy the story and….
Glass on gang..
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