Since the turn of the 20th century, the possibilities of technological invention have been a source of great fascination. Digging into the past, projections about our future world can offer a fascinating glimpse into the popular imagination and the hopes and values of different eras. Be it robot servants, flying cars, or moon colonies, retro depictions of the future can also be a great source of kitsch and aesthetic cool.
Since the 1930s, car companies have explored cutting-edge automobile design with concept cars, or “dream cars”, often highlighted at auto shows around the world. Most of these cars never go into production; the ones that do lose many of their zanier features for the sake of practicality. One concept car made by Lincoln in 1954 became the Batmobile in the popular Batman TV series of the 1960s. A few images of these futuristic cars are featured in our latest photography show When Collecting Was New: Photographs from the Robert A. Taub Collection.
Robert A. Taub, a photography collector whose expansive acquisitions are currently featured in Galleries 1–4, once served as counsel and later vice president of the Ford Motor Company. As an officer on the Ford Motor Company Fund, he spearheaded the purchase of modernist photography as a gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Recently, he generously gifted the core of his own collection to the Art Institute’s Department of Photography.
Among the many photographs on display in When Collecting Was New are these commercial photographs commissioned some time in the late 1970s by Ford for an annual report that was never published. Using a large-format camera, photographer Joel Meyerowitz captured these “dream cars” in rich glossy detail. While they still seem to belong to a future we never arrived to, one can also see features that became popular in cars of the following decade, particularly the rounded corners of the so-called jellybean era of automobile production in the 1980s that valued the energy-saving aspects of aerodynamic design.
When Collecting Was New (closing May 12) features an eclectic mix of photographs tracing the full history of the medium, including these funky futuristic cars and much more.
Joel Meyerowitz. Untitled (Ford Marketing Image), 1978/79. Gift of Robert A. Taub.
13 hours 47 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago "Be a good craftsman; it won't stop you being a genius.”
Advice from Pierre-Auguste Renoir, on his birthday.
See 13 paintings by the great French Impressionist—now on view: http://bit.ly/2lj3AVq
1 day 7 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Go
Speed is both a product of modern life and an agent of it. At the turn of the 20th century, new technologies of mobility and transmission—trains, cars, airplanes, radio, film, television, to name only a few—increased the pace of life, collapsing distances between people and places and assaulting the senses.
Go, the second exhibition in the Art Institute’s Modern Series, explores how artists responded to different ways of experiencing and seeing the world in the accelerated modern age—through paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, designed objects, textiles, books, and films.
1 day 12 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Happy birthday to Winslow Homer. In 1883 the artist moved to a small coastal village in Maine, where he created a series of paintings of the sea unparalleled in American art. The paintings he created after 1882 focused almost exclusively on humankind’s age-old contest with nature.
In The Herring Net, Homer depicted the heroic efforts of fishermen at their daily work. While one fisherman hauls in the netted and glistening herring, the other unloads the catch. Utilizing the teamwork so necessary for survival, both strive to steady the precarious boat as it rides the incoming swells. Homer’s isolation of these two figures underscores the monumentality of their task: the elemental struggle against a sea that both nurtures and deprives.
See five paintings by Winslow Homer in Gallery 171 of American Art—http://bit.ly/2l89rfx