Cars have been a fascination for artists since they sputtered onto the road. They are cultural objects, gleaming social markers, symbolic vessels of all that is modernity. Usually, there are one or two “art cars” in Miami, but in all the years I’ve made the rounds the most memorable was easily Pimp Juice, the fully customized Cadillac low-rider Jeffrey Deitch parked in front of Art Basel back in 2007. It was tricked out by the Chicago-based Puerto-Rican artist Dzine and it was cool. Like good graffiti, it required no art historical education to appreciate. It might have been the biggest novelty and asked the most mundane question, Is it art?, but it was arguably the most democratic piece in all of South Beach. Kids, adults, old people—every age bracket was represented in the long line to snap a selfie with it. Not a single piece inside any fair commanded that kind of adoration.
Richard Prince, Vanishing Point (The Artist Cut) (Car), 2012 - 13, 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T , 375 hp 5.7 litre hemi with 4880 miles, 197.7L x 75.7W x 57.1H Inches; Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan.
This year Venus Over Manhattan has organized “Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile,” a non-fair event sponsored by Ferrari. Fourteen car/sculptures will be exhibited/parked in a slick new garage designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The show will include classics like Kieth Haring’s Untitled Buick from 1986, with the little Haring man riding an orange snake down one side of the vehicle. Richard Prince, a car collector who previously exhibited a souped up Dodge Charger at the 2007 Frieze, will be represented by a similar looking muscle car named Vanishing Point (2012-13) after the seventies flick staring Barry Newman. There will also be newly minted pieces, such as the 1964 Ford Galaxy that Oliver Mosset, Jacob Kassay, and Servane Mary have collaborated on.
Perhaps unsurprising, but still somewhat disappointing is the lack of female artists invited to participate. Apart from Mary, Virginia Overton is the lone woman in group that includes some of the art world’s most high octane men: Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, Richard Phillips, Franz West. And the younger contingent is similarly bro-centric: Bruce High Quality Foundation, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman.
Keith Haring, Untitled (Car), 1986, Enamel on 1963 Buick Special, 189 x 71 x 54 Inches; Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan.
I’m looking forward to seeing Overton’s Dodge Ram submerged in sand more than Hirst’s Mini Cooper tricked out in his trademark spots. But will any of the automobiles engaged by these artists be more interesting than the vehicles that pop and jump and blink on the tv show Pimp My Ride? Will anything be more fabulous than Pimp Juice, which brought the incredible Puerto Rican car culture straight into the mainstream art culture? All the elements are in place for something spectacular; we’ve got blue chip artists, a luxury brand sponsor, a hip NYC gallery producing the event, and a sleek venue. Understatement and subtlety are not for this mix. I expect it to be the crème brulee of art fare in Miami this year.
[Image on top: Olivier Mosset, Servane Mary, Jacob Kassay, Ford Galaxie (Car), 2013 , 1964 Ford Galaxie , 209.9 x 81.5 Inches; Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan.]