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.
1 day 7 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Mary Cassatt was the only American artist to exhibit with the original Impressionist group. This sensitive portrayal of a mother and child reflects the most advanced 19th-century ideas about raising children. Scientists and physicians of the day encouraged mothers (instead of wet nurses and nannies) to care for their children and to include regular bathing in their hygiene practices to prevent disease. #5WomenArtists
See three paintings by Mary Cassatt now on view: http://bit.ly/2nl9Z68
Image: [Now on view in Gallery 273] Mary Cassatt. The Child's Bath, 1893. Robert A. Waller Fund.
1 day 11 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago APRIL 21—Join us for After Dark in the Modern Wing!
Check out the new exhibition Go with special tours and late-night access. And catch live performances by Monakr and Mano.
Must be 21+. Hosted by The Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago.