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MOMA’S FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE PART 2

IN 1951, NEW YORK CITY’s Museum of Modern Art celebrated automotive esthetics with its 8 Automobiles exhibit. Yesterday in Part 1, we shared MOMA views on its first four examples. Today in Part 2, we’ll continue with solemn streamlining, practicality, elemental fun, and conservatism.

1937 Cord. “Like the Talbot,” MOMA wrote, “the Cord faces the road flanked by two voluminous fenders. But where the French car’s passenger and motor compartments repeat these inflated forms, the Cord contrasts them with a vigorously box-like body.”

1937 Gordon-Buehrig-designed Cord 812 Westchester sedan. Image from auto.howstuffworks.com.

MOMA continued, “As with the Cisitalia, and more particularly with the Talbot, many of the Cord’s lines are borrowed from aerodynamics. But if the Talbot recalls the sweep of a light glider, the Cord suggests the driving power of a fast fighter ’plane. It is, in fact, a most solemn expression of streamlining.”

1951 Willys Jeep.“The admirable Jeep,” MOMA observed, “seem to have the combined appeal of an intelligent dog and a perfect gadget.”

1951 Willys Jeep. MOMA image.

“Those who have used the Jeep,” MOMA related, “will recall certain limitations of comfort. Yet there are few automobiles which give their drivers so exhilarating a sense of speed and control…. It is one of the few genuine expressions of machine art.”

1948 MG TC. “The MG,” wrote MOMA, “gives the illusion of being the unenhanced piece of machinery which the Jeep actually is. Unlike the Jeep, however, the MG’s stylistic understatement is the result of an intense but devious preoccupation with appearance.”

1948 MG TC. Image by R&T from SimanaitisSays.

“Like the Mercedes,” MOMA observed, “the MG has wheels animated by sparkling wire spokes. Extravagantly slender rims, resembling the wooden hoops children play with, dryly recall the artful simplicity with which less important details have been treated.”

1941 Lincoln Continental. MOMA noted, “Like the Cord, the Lincoln Continental is, basically, a box to which fenders have been added. The Continental differs from the Cord, however, in that its front fenders, which are the only major addition to the body, are not shaped for maximum contrast. Instead, they are kept flat and light to the sides, from which they seem to grow.”

1941 Lincoln Continental. MOMA image from jalopyjournal.com.

“The Lincoln Continental,” MOMA concluded, “satisfies the requirements of connoisseurs while capturing the imagination of a public less preoccupied with the refinements of automobile design.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

One comment on “MOMA’S FIRST CELEBRATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE PART 2

  1. carmacarcounselor
    December 15, 2019

    A very timely pair of posts. I am preparing a column for the Petersen Automotive Museum’s volunteer publication, the Pit Stop, about their Cisitalia 202. I was aware of course, of its inclusion in the MOMA exhibit, and that it was the first car they added to their permanent collection as Art, but your link to the actual catalogue was invaluable. Thank you!

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