The artist creates the design on the car by either adding or subtracting materials of his or the owner’s choosing. They may also renovate an earlier model to revive a beauty and style that once was. The end result is a vehicle which conveys new meaning through design, mechanical or structural changes, renovation and/or the addition of new images, symbols or other elements.
The art car subculture began with the influence of the hippie-themed VWs of the late 1960s, the lowrider, as well as a Merry Pranksters' creation, the decorated school bus known as Furthur.
- Singer Janis Joplin had a psychedelically-painted Porsche 356
- John Lennon - a paisley Rolls Royce
- Painted VW Buses (sometimes with a peace symbol in place of the giant VW logo)
- 1977 Cadillac Fleetwood seen in the film Escape from New York
In the 1990s an art car community began to evolve inspired by movies and books, and the development of innovative art display venues such as Burning Man. One of the main forces behind this is filmmaker and art car artist Harrod Blank, who created the art car documentaries Wild Wheels (1992), Driving the Dream (1998) and Automorphosis (2009).
The art car culture, which was once strongest throughout Texas and the Southeast, now extends throughout the United States. Events showcasing art cars can be found in many major cities and small towns. Art cars have become popular throughout the world.
Art cars are an expression of the artistic need to create and the inspiration for their designs often come from popular culture or a need for artists to express their individual ideas and visions. The works of art can range from imaginatively painted vehicles to extravagant fantasies.
Definitely the most prolific are BMW’s art cars, the subject of our next post!