Inventive, Historic Concept Cars Roll Into the High
“Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” features some of the rarest, most imaginative cars designed by Ferrari, Bugatti, General Motors and Porsche
Atlanta, May 5, 2014 –This summer, the High Museum of Art presents a major exhibition of innovative automotive design that brings together 17 concept cars from across Europe and the U.S. On view from May 21 through Sept. 7, 2014, “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” features concept cars from the early 1930s to the 21st century that pushed the limits of imagination and foreshadowed the future of design.
The exhibition pairs conceptual drawings, patents and scale models with realized cars, demonstrating how their experimental designs advanced ideas of progress and changed the automobile from an object of function to a symbol of future possibilities.
Concept cars are a way for automakers, coachbuilders and independent designers to showcase and demonstrate innovative and progressive designs. Most concept cars are never intended for series production and are created as a way to explore ideas through styling and design aesthetics, as well as experiment with new technology.
Highlights of Dream Cars include:
- Paul Arzens’ “L’Oeuf électrique” (1942), an electric bubble car designed by Arzens for his personal use in Paris during the German occupation, which has never before traveled to the U.S.
- William Stout’s “Scarab” (1936), the genesis of the contemporary minivan.
- Marcello Gandini’s Lancia (Bertone) “Stratos HF Zero” (1970), a wedge-shaped car that is only 33 inches tall.
- Christopher Bangle’s BMW “GINA Light Visionary Model” (2001), featuring an exterior made of fabric.
- A full-scale (6 x 20 foot) rendering of a concept car by Carl Renner (1951).
“Dream Cars” also examines how automotive design events like General Motors’ 1949-61 Motoramas influenced the industry and features three cars from these events: Firebird 1 XP-21 (1954), Buick Centurion (1956) and Le Sabre (1951). This section of the exhibition focuses on the role of automotive designers such as Harley Earl at GM, who combined styling and design aesthetics with technological advances to create futuristic renderings that imbued automobiles with a sense of glamour and fantasy.
“The concept cars presented in ‘Dream Cars’ demonstrate how design can transcend the present and offer new paths and opportunities for the future,” said Sarah Schleuning, exhibition curator and curator of decorative arts and design at the High. “While these cars were never mass-produced, they shaped the future of the automotive industry by challenging the notion of what is possible, technologically and stylistically.”
To complement the presentation, the exhibition includes a contemporary design workshop featuring the 2010 Porsche Spyder 918 concept car.
“‘Dreams Cars’ offers the opportunity to explore the dreams of individual automotive designers, as well as some of the most famous car manufacturers in the world,” said Michael E. Shapiro, the Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director of the High Museum of Art. “Three years ago, we organized the exhibition ‘The Allure of the Automobile,’ which focused on the evolution of the motorcar. That exhibition was tremendously successful in bringing new audiences to the museum. With ‘Dream Cars,’ we continue our commitment to showcasing the importance of design and encouraging future innovation.”
“This exhibition presents 17 historic four-wheeled fantasies that push the envelopes of automotive styling, engineering and design to impressive heights. Visual and tactile tributes to ingenuity and imagination, these remarkable cars will intrigue visitors with their audacity, just as they did when they first appeared," said Ken Gross, automotive expert and consulting curator for “Dream Cars.”
A full-color, 160-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring stunning photography and an extended essay by Schleuning exploring the effects of aerodynamics and aeronautics on car design, the design process from conception to completion, and how groundbreaking events such as General Motors' Motorama fueled the creativity of automobile styles. Also included are comprehensive automotive descriptions by Gross.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. The exhibition is supported by presenting sponsor Porsche Cars North America, Inc. We gratefully acknowledge AutoTrader, AutoTrader Classics, Manheim, WSB-TV, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and WSB News Talk Radio for their generous support. Special thanks to contributing sponsors Delta Air Lines, AT&T, and NAPA. Additional support is provided by The Coca-Cola Company, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, the Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Endowment Fund, and Tommy and Beth Holder. In-kind support provided by UPS. The exhibition is curated by Sarah Schleuning, High Museum of Art curator of decorative arts and design, with consulting curator Ken Gross.
High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information about the High, visit high.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center, please visit www.woodruffcenter.org.
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High Museum of Art
Public Relations Specialist