Automotive Art also referred to as Auto Art, and Car Art is a rapidly
growing form of fine art. The specialized term Car Art should not
be confused with Art Cars where the cars themselves become part of
the art that is painted or sculpted onto an existing vehicle.
To begin to judge the merits of Automotive art we need to understand
the impact of this relatively new category of fine art on society.
We must do a number of things, the first of which is to try to understand
what art and fine art is. I say this because the acceptability of
car art is not universal in all establishment art circles and this
is not just the hesitation to accept individual styles, or certain
pieces but sometimes the rejection of the whole genre.
The Art "Establishment", that nebulous term, which roughly
equates with those willing and having the funds to purchase works
of art have been the gatekeepers of what becomes priceless and what
falls by the wayside. There is a long history of now accepted and
desired art forms being rejected at first by the "Establishment"
Works from artists like Van Gogh and the early Picasso come to mind.
We must also determine what an illustration is and what the contribution
of automotive styling has done to this rapidly proliferating subject
Online American Heritage Dictionary describes fine art as:
1. Art produced or intended primarily for beauty rather than utility.
2. Any of the art forms, such as sculpture, painting, or music, used
to create such art. Often used in the plural.
The term has been used to define the Visual Arts and not arts that reflect
a craft or have a utilitarian aspect. Fine Art requires discipline
in the field of painting, printmaking, sculpture and or architecture.
There is no precise definition for art and there probably never will
be since what has been acceptable has changed sometimes from generation
to generation. Today abstract and impressionistic artists are more
favorably looked on by the establishment than realist painters. But
over a century ago this situation was reversed. It took a while for
the first French impressionist painters to be accepted. Also, the
science used to enable artwork as it involves supports (canvases),
the chemistry of pigments, techniques and other things such the growing
knowledge of how light works has affected in the types of paintings
we see today. The use of perspective during the renaissance and non
objective art at the end of the 19th century changed how we looked
Another very important change that may or may not affect the viewpoint
some have on automotive art as worthy of being included as a subject
matter for fine art is the loss of importance of narrative in art
Historically narrative or story telling has been an important part
of painted images from those found on tombs, temples and palace walls
in archeological digs to the scenes depicted in domestic paintings
by the Renaissance masters all the way up to the canvases of realist
painters of the 19th century.
High quality automotive fine art often tells a story or draws the
viewer in by depicting an impressionist background or sometime one
that is even non objective. More often than not the artist will prefer
to stay with realism or photo realism as a background. Impressionism
was developed in France in the late 1800s and refers to the play of
light on an object with a resulting color change through time. Primary
colors were often used and the objects were not well defined. Non
bjectivism is a term used to define a canvas where objects are not
identifiable on the painting.
I believe that because automotive art relies on realism to depict
its primary subject mater in its most flattering way it has run the
risk of being looked upon by some of the art establishment as not
particularly at the cutting edge of any art movement and in fact maybe
as a throwback to an earlier movement. There are arguments for this
viewpoint but there are also arguments for the merits of depicting
cars as part of our history. They have in will continue to shape civilization
and have been praised and vilified. Automobiles as subject should
have an important place in our artistic expression. It is also necessary
to take into consideration the merits of each genre of art and not
disqualify any for varying reasons many of which are unsupportable.
Using the simple definition provided above by the Online American
Heritage Dictionary then automotive art can qualify as Fine Art as
the art is intended not as a functional object but for its aesthetic
qualities. That many automobiles have this quality also makes it all
How to judge individual
Today we have gotten too involved with the execution of a thing and
the precision of its creation at the sacrifice of its value. By value
I mean whether an object can elevate passion or instruct us individually
into the reason for the objects creation. Are we intellectually stimulated
or challenged any more. The other day I saw an ad for a Lexus that
parks itself . As one who has always loved automobiles I would rather
park the damn thing myself thank you very much. But, then many with
that kind of money will not buy themselves a vintage sports car but
rather the thing that though well executed has the excitement of a
zucchini in both style and thrill of driving. Nothing much is hand
built any more and many things have lost their character or uniqueness.
I have read that it is more difficult to create a successful abstract
painting than it is to create a realistic one and also the reverse.
There are reasons to hold to both views. Each requires the composition
to follow the elements and principals of art, which are what an artist
uses to control and unify the space on which the work is set..