Appearing for the first time in North America in over 30 years, “Andy Warhol: Cars – Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection” will be exhibited at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California. The groundbreaking exhibition will be open to the public on July 23rd and will present a rare and exclusive look at the relationship between the “Cars” series of artworks and the vehicles it depicts. Taking place in the Armand Hammer Foundation gallery on the first floor of the museum, the unique exhibition features five of the eight Mercedes-Benz vehicles ultimately represented in Warhol’s final commission.
Among the extremely rare assemblage are some of the most iconic and valuable cars in the world. A 1937 W 125, on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, was originally built for Grand Prix racing and features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine producing 637 horsepower, making it one of the race cars on the road the most powerful in three decades. The unique C 111-II from 1970 is also making its way from the German museum. The experimental Mercedes-Benz used a highly aerodynamic fiberglass body and a three-rotor Wankel engine (later replaced by a turbocharged diesel) to reach speeds of 200 mph. A 1954 W 196 was loaned by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. A Formula 1 car driven by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, the W 196 model won two world championships before Mercedes retired from competitive racing for three decades. Forty original works by Warhol from the “Cars” series, all on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection, are presented alongside the historic vehicles.
Widely known as the originator and exponent of the Pop art movement of the 1960s, Warhol was famous for his iconography of everyday objects such as Campbell’s soup cans, Coca-Cola bottles and Brillo boxes, in plus his colorful renderings of a host of famous personalities and celebrities (his “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” portrait of Marilyn Monroe recently sold for a record $195 million). Mercedes-Benz originally ordered the “Cars” series in 1986 to help celebrate its 100e anniversary after seeing Warhol’s serigraphs of his 300 SL coupé. Warhol planned to create 80 works of art using 20 different Mercedes models spanning the German automaker’s 100-year history. But only 49 works, 36 screenprints on canvas and 13 drawings, were completed before Warhol’s unexpected death in 1987 after routine surgery left the project unfinished.
“Andy Warhol was an iconic and influential figure who pioneered art and pop culture,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum. “Not many people have seen his automotive works, so we are delighted to show them to the public alongside the unique vehicles that inspired his creative visions. This is an exclusive exhibition that appeals to both art and design enthusiasts amazing automobiles.
The 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow owned by Warhol will also be on display in an adjacent gallery. After achieving commercial success with his art, Warhol bought the Rolls-Royce new and kept it for the rest of his life. Never obtaining a driver’s license, Warhol never drove the Silver Shadow, always riding as a passenger and relying on his friends for transportation. Its long list of famous drivers includes Mick Jagger, Imelda Marcos and Liza Minnelli.
To purchase tickets or for more information about the Petersen Automotive Museum, please visit www.petersen.org.