This summer, the High Museum of Art
presents a major exhibition of innovative automotive design that brings together 17 concept cars from across Europe and the U.S. On view from May 21 through Sept. 7, 2014, Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas features concept cars from the early 1930s to the 21st century that pushed the limits of imagination and foreshadowed the future of design.
The exhibition pairs conceptual drawings, patents and scale models with realized cars, demonstrating how their experimental designs advanced ideas of progress and changed the automobile from an object of function to a symbol of future possibilities.
Concept cars are a way for automakers, coachbuilders and independent designers to showcase and demonstrate innovative and progressive designs. Most concept cars are never intended for series production and are created as a way to explore ideas through styling and design aesthetics, as well as experiment with new technology.
Highlights of Dream Cars include:
Paul Arzens LOeuf électrique (1942), an electric bubble car designed by Arzens for his personal use in Paris during the German occupation, which has never before traveled to the U.S.
William Stouts Scarab (1936), the genesis of the contemporary minivan.
Marcello Gandinis Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero (1970), a wedge-shaped car that is only 33 inches tall.
Christopher Bangles BMW GINA Light Visionary Model (2001), featuring an exterior made of fabric.
A full-scale (6 x 20 foot) rendering of a concept car by Carl Renner (1951).
Dream Cars also examines how automotive design events like General Motors 1949-61 Motoramas influenced the industry and features three cars from these events: Firebird 1 XP-21 (1954), Buick Centurion (1956) and Le Sabre (1951). This section of the exhibition focuses on the role of automotive designers such as Harley Earl at GM, who combined styling and design aesthetics with technological advances to create futuristic renderings that imbued automobiles with a sense of glamour and fantasy.
The concept cars presented in Dream Cars demonstrate how design can transcend the present and offer new paths and opportunities for the future, said Sarah Schleuning, exhibition curator and curator of decorative arts and design at the High. While these cars were never mass-produced, they shaped the future of the automotive industry by challenging the notion of what is possible, technologically and stylistically.
To complement the presentation, the exhibition includes a contemporary design workshop featuring the 2010 Porsche Spyder 918 concept car.
Dreams Cars offers the opportunity to explore the dreams of individual automotive designers, as well as some of the most famous car manufacturers in the world, said Michael E. Shapiro, the Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. director of the High Museum of Art. Three years ago, we organized the exhibition The Allure of the Automobile, which focused on the evolution of the motorcar. That exhibition was tremendously successful in bringing new audiences to the museum. With Dream Cars, we continue our commitment to showcasing the importance of design and encouraging future innovation.
This exhibition presents 17 historic four-wheeled fantasies that push the envelopes of automotive styling, engineering and design to impressive heights. Visual and tactile tributes to ingenuity and imagination, these remarkable cars will intrigue visitors with their audacity, just as they did when they first appeared," said Ken Gross, automotive expert and consulting curator for Dream Cars.