'Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908-1948' Exhibition to Open at the Wolfsonian

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The Wolfsonian–Florida International University presents Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908-1948, an engaging exploration of automobile design in America from the 1900s through the 1940s. The exhibition, on view from October 16, 2009 through March 14, 2010, highlights the important role played by designers and visual artists in communicating the complex ideas that guided the development of automobiles, roadways, service stations, and advertising materials.

More than eighty skillfully and elegantly rendered design drawings—most presented publicly for the first time—demonstrate how the design of automobiles changed dramatically through styling, as well as how the automobile exerted a profound impact on the built environment and on American culture. Created by industrial designers, architects, draftsmen, and illustrators, each original design drawing—whether a conceptual idea for styling a car’s fender, an illustration of a new car for a marketing campaign, or a rendering of a service station—conveys information about the particular project, the context in which it was made, and the designer’s own personal aesthetic.

In providing evidence of the visual strategies and techniques used to translate abstract ideas into concrete form, Styled for the Road explores the widely overlooked contribution of designers and visual arts in creating the aura of American automobile culture. “These drawings might convince a manufacturer to re-style a fender or radiator grille, persuade a consumer to buy a new car, or provide valuable information for an urban planner,” explains Marianne Lamonaca, curator of the exhibition and The Wolfsonian’s associate director for curatorial affairs and education. “Today, they also invite our scrutiny because they reveal the beauty and intensity of hand-rendered drawings, at a time when digital imagery dominates our visual culture.”..

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