Headin’ Down the Highway

Automobiles are among the most coveted industrial objects in the world. Cars ooze with sex-appeal and appetite-appeal. High performance, beautifully designed and elegantly appointed, who is not seduced by such a machine? Yet the full bore of car promotion today cannot compare with the force of yesteryear. If you did not live through it, you can get a taste from an exhibition, “Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908-1948” at The Wolfsonian Musuem in Miami Beach (until March 14). Or if you cannot make the trip, the show’s catalog which includes the images above and below (steering wheels top and bottom are “Shellers”) is a reasonable substitute.
 
This splendid exhibition focuses on the automobile as integral to American culture. Exhibited are detailed illustrations of production cars, showrooms, filling stations, as well as advertisements and brochures that will make you drool (if you are the sort that salivates at gorgeous design).
 
(Images from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf collection, photographed by Mark Wallison. Wolfsonian collection, photographed by Silvia Ros.)
 
 
 

 

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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

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