There’s a hunk of art in the house and it’s called “Automania!”  The rotating iconic car exhibit debuted in July and George and I rolled into MOMA with his two hipster twenty-somethings arriving by train from nearby Brooklyn.

What began as an assemblage of nine European showoffs and one American-made model dwindled to less than four when we got there.  Floor three extolled the beauty of the waning collection that included a pimped-out ’59 VW Beetle, a restored candy-apple red ’48 Pininfarina Castalia 202GT, a ’61 Jaguar E-type Roadster, and a 1953 Airstream Bambi.

George restored many a VW to near-glory so the seagull gray counterculture punch-buggie proved a favorite. (Thank you Marianna for the gentle tap on the shoulder).   Still, the purist gawked at the polished bumpers and spotless fenders and shook his head.  His disdain for indulgences was apparent.  “Halogen lights and thick white sidewalls, now, that’s not original,” he scoffed.

My favorite was the floorplan of the vintage ’63 Airstream Bambi.   The technicolor time-capsule was displayed with the door swung open, the tailgates on, and the window propped: an invitation for a cross-country road trip.

I fixated on a nearby illustration by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, one of many photographs, posters, and sculptures to enjoy.  The drawing, called The Living City Project, was a futuristic cityscape with flying cars whizzing over thick-grown hillsides.  It reminded me of a Roger Dean poster in my college dorm room.

The third floor has something for everyone including elements at odds with each other.   As seductive it is to own a car, a sense of freedom like no other, it’s also a complicated love affair with the environment.   Pollution, gentrification, suburbs, superhighways, are art-washed right out of the narrative when you’re at the museum.

Explore your own personal journey now through January 2, 2022.

2 Replies to “Going under the hood at “Automania””

  1. Nicely worded piece given our conflicted love of autos and fossil fuels. Simplicity and elegance stated at this exhibit. It left me wanting more…

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