US: Detroit art exhibition brings lost automotive design marvels image

Automotive design has been surrounded by a question for years – can it be called fine art? Now, auto designers, historians and documentary makers converge on the Motor City to find some answers.

Exponents of design from Detroit’s marvelous mid-20th century design era will share their works with art historians and filmmakers during a panel discussion taking place at the Lawrence Technological University in Southfield Wednesday, on April 29. The gathering will also form part of the larger exhibition that plans to present some 120 works of 20 auto designers. More importantly, the “American Dreaming: Detroit’s Golden Age of Automobile Design” can be visited for free by everyone, the exhibition being open to the public in LTU’s Gallery through May 2. Most of the represented works have something to do with the flamboyant aerospace-influenced mid-century modernist themes that were the roots for some of the classic cars of the US auto industry. The exhibition is multi-brand and covers the golden age of the 1946-73 period. This would also be the first time most of the works would be presented for the public.

That’s because back then the automakers usually worked against the wishes of their designers. Usually most of the design proposals that didn’t make it into series production were destroyed to make sure the attention was focused on the new product – so a portion of the designers had to “sneak” their own work back home to avoid destruction. Filmmakers brought all the designers together, part of their work on an automotive design documentary on the era that should be ready next year.