Art on Wheels: The NCMA presents Rolling Sculpture

Masterpieces of 20th-century industrial design with artistic flair, the automobiles and motorcycles in Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s are stunning in their beauty, luxuriousness, and evocation of an era marked by an optimistic view of modernity and a desire to convey social status through conspicuous consumption.

These vehicles exemplify the tenets of art deco, an artistic style originating in France that also defined the look of passenger trains and luxury liners, architecture, furniture, jewelry, objets d’art, and fashion throughout the 1920s and 1930s. With their increasing importance to modern life, automobiles provided an ideal metal canvas upon which industrial designers could capture the sweeping changes occurring between the two world wars.

NCMA Curator of Ancient Art Caroline Rocheleau worked alongside Ken Gross, guest curator and automobile historian, to organize the exhibition, which runs October 1 through January 15, bringing a unique perspective to the history and inspiration behind the exhibition. Watch the video below to hear about Rocheleau’s approach to planning the exhibition, the can’t-miss cars and motorcycles you’ll see on your visit, and the design details that truly make these automobiles “art on wheels.”https://player.vimeo.com/video/179980804?app_id=122963

Deco down to the details: one of the star cars in the NCMA’s Rolling Sculpture exhibition: 1936 Peugeot 402 Darl’mat Coupe, Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection; Photo © 2016 Michael Furman

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