Exhaust aromas and engine sounds are easy to imagine as Detroit's art museum salutes GM, Chrysler and Ford designers with a just-opened display of 12 classic vehicles, concept drawings of fanciful whips and archival photos.
The seven-month Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit -- "Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City, 1950-2020" -- presents "futuristic concept cars, roaring muscle cars and sleek racers designed in and around the city," a description says. It quotes director Salvador Salort-Pons:
"This exhibition will showcase the similarities between the art of car design and the creative process sculptors of the past used to create their masterpieces." ...
[It] includes unique examples of celebrated, experimental show cars created for display as well as iconic production models sold to the mass market. ... The cars and drawings on display also document the changing landscape of ... American culture from 1950–2020, using new technologies to appeal to the fantasies and ambitions of their day.
In addition to four vehicles from each of the Big 3, starting with General Motors' 1951 Le Sabre and ending with a 2017 Ford GT, the "Detroit Style" galleries have over 30 design drawings, a scultpure and auto-related paintings.
Car design is "an art form pioneered here in Detroit," exhibit curator Ben Colman tells Metro Times.
"You really get a sense of how ideas take shape and become concrete from a very abstract starting point," Colman says. "For me, that's a really thrilling opportunity to look through the designers' eyes and see what they see and think, how they think as the process moves along."
He adds: "There is a lot of artistic license and freedom in these unique prototype show cars and concept cars that are not necessarily intended for mass production, so [the designers] can dream really big and then take on very ambitious challenges that might not quite be feasible at mass scale yet."
Galleries that opened Sunday have the museum's second "Detroit Style" presentation, following up on a 1983 exhibition of vehicles and automotive art from 1925-50.
► Exhibit length: Through next June 27
► 11 more photos: These exhibit images are from the DIA: