Avantgarde masters meet automotive icons at the Mercedes-Benz Museum
Cars are hip. Not only out on the streets, at the nearest playground or in the realm of racing, but also where you might least expect it: in the almost closed-off, conspirative and – usually – mainstream-averse microcosm of Berlin’s avantgarde art scene. This rather exclusive circle, however, has found a new focus and gathering space: the Autocenter gallery. Here, critics and creators alike witnessed the inception of an almost life-like garage and repair shop filled with plenty of engine-driven contraptions, installed under the aegis of artist Marcus Sendlinger.
And to find and follow this budding trend, art lovers no longer need to scour urban wastelands overshadowed by Berlin’s municipal transport ring or scout out Prenzlauer Berg’s last remaining hidden backyards where Sendlinger also staged an event focused on intriguing art and horsepower. Now, fans of automotive-inspired art can explore this new and exciting crossover at Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany where a special exhibit Art & Stars & Cars presents plenty of moving surprises – from modern classics to challenging works from the crème of contemporary art – until September 25th.
Here, the first work awaits in the foyer: what might pass for a pared down, dilapidated draft of the seminal C 111 in thumbnail view is actually a standalone work by Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer. In love with the matchbox version of this iconic model since early childhood, Sailstorfer decided to realise his long-lost dream by reassembling pieces from an 190 E into the semblance of his former object of desire. The artist on his roadworthy collage: “My work is all about transformation and creating your own world and cosmos. I liked the idea of taking a car my grandma has been driving and turn it into something truly out of reach, something that was never available in the first place – like a shooting star. So, it’s all about taking easily available parts and using them to make the impossible possible.” In this spirit – and a good decade ago – Sailstorfer mounted a catapult on the roof of his own Mercedes to shoot street lights up into the sky. Exploring this thin line between reality and wishful thinking, future projects will take him to Oslo, Nuremberg, New York and Berlin this year.
On a similar note – and blessed with an equal dose of imagination – Swiss artist Nic Hess added an outsized replica of his own nose to the museum’s Mythosraum 7 (room of legends 7), a space dedicated to the evolution of the sports car: he called his work "Nose XL 11" and sent it off into the steep turn accompanied by several silver arrows. For a different project, he wrapped a touring car in a colourful tent to highlight the ultimate origin of human mobility, nomadism, with his unique "Nomamobile".
Beyond this latest flock of up-and-coming art stars, the show’s portfolio of 250 works by 120 international artists also features timeless 20th century icons ranging from Oskar Schlemmer to Andy Warhol. The latter takes pride of place with eleven silkscreen prints culled from his unfinished "Cars" series, an impressive document of our technological ascent and evolution from engine-driven carriage to groundbreaking 1970 wing-door study. Incidentally, quite a few contemporary artists also appreciate the distinctive star in their own private life: Marcus Sendlinger, for example, simply swears by his childhood’s familiar 123 series – naturally, in the guise of a stylish white 280 coupe.
For more information on the Art & Stars & Cars exhibition at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (Germany), please visit www.mercedes-benz-classic.com/artstarscars