Art and the Automobile: The VW Beetle Sculptures of Ichwan Noor

James Kraus

JK - 1 (9)

Beetle Sphere, Ichwan Noor, 2015

The VW Beetle has probably appeared in more artwork than any other vehicle. In 2011, Indonesian sculptor Ichwan Noor added to the Beetle’s catalogue raisonné when he began a series of lifesize full-scale VWs transformed into to perfect spheres and cubes.   Continue reading


Art and the Automobile: Conmemorando el SEAT 600

James Kraus

JK - 1 (15)

Monumento al SEAT 600, 2008

While many nations have seemingly all but forgotten specific examples of their automotive heritage, Spain is a notable exception.

Spain’s SEAT 600; a licensed duplicate of the celebrated Fiat 600, was the second automobile to be manufactured by Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo.  Continue reading

Art and the Automobile: Vector Portraits

James Kraus

Man cruising south-southeast at 65 mph on Highway 101 near Toro Canyon on June 19th as the tide is coming in, 2010

Man cruising south-southeast at 65 mph on Highway 101 near Toro Canyon on June 19th as the tide is coming in, 2010. Tap to view full-size

On a trip to Modernism Week in Palm Springs earlier this year I visited the home of a prominent art and vintage car collector. While attending to a glass of distilled spirits in his library, I was entranced by a pair of outsize Vector Portraits by Los Angeles photographer Andrew Bush. Initially garnering my attention were the vehicles depicted: a 1968 Porsche 911 and a 1964 Ford Falcon Ranchero.

Unlike static portraits, these dynamic documentary-style images captured their subjects in motion, moving through time and space while cocooned within the semi-private environment of their personal vehicles.   Continue reading

Eine Woche in Volkswagenwerk, 1953

by James Kraus

VW bodies travel on overhead conveyor from paint shop to final assembly, Wolfsburg, Germany

In April of 1953, German photographer Peter Keetman (1916-2005) spent a week at the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. Peter was a founding member of Fotoform, a group of German photographers whose work meshed abstraction with objectivity, often incorporating close-ups and repetition. The images resulting from the Volkswagen project eventually became some of his favourite and best known.

When Herr Keetman visited, VW was at a pivotal point in its history. The Beetle and the Type II Transporter/Microbus were the only two products Volkswagen produced. However, a third model, the Karmann Ghia, had been developed and was little more than a year from introduction. The Wolfsburg plant was still VW’s only automobile manufacturing facility, but their second European assembly plant (Hanover) was in the planning stage, and Volkswagen do Brazil was in the process of beginning pilot production.

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