1936 Delahaye 135M Figoni et Falaschi Competition Coupe and 1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadste

Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles – Photo Gallery

The Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles exhibit is presently on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee through September 15, 2013. The first fine art museum exhibition devoted to vehicles of the Art Deco era, Sensuous Steel highlights 18 automobiles and two motorcycles from the 1930s and ’40s.

Curated by Ken Gross from some of the most renowned car collectors and collections in the automotive world, the iconic vehicles in Sensuous Steel display the classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design. Among a museum full of notable and important vehicles, examples include Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet; a 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow, one of three survivors; a special Delahaye 135MS created by coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi for the 1937 Paris Auto Salon; a 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe; the airplane-like 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe; the 1939 Bugatti Type 57C by Vanvooren gifted by France as a wedding present to the future Shah of Iran and the very first “New York-style” 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe.

“Rapidly changing and ever-evolving, the automobile became the perfect metal canvas upon which industrial designers expressed the vital spirit of the interwar period,” explained Guest Curator Ken Gross. “To give the illusion of dramatic movement and forward thrust, cars of the 1930s and ’40s merged gentle curves with angular edges. These automobiles were made from the finest materials and sported beautifully crafted ornamentation, geometric grillwork, and the elegant miniature statuary of hood ornaments. The classic cars of the Art Deco age remain today as among the most visually exciting, iconic and refined designs of the twentieth century.”

The Frist reported nearly 6,000 visitors for the opening weekend, one of the most successful openings in its history, with lines out the door and visitors from all over the country traveling to Nashville specifically to see the magnificent automobiles and motorcycles on display at Sensuous Steel.

The Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles exhibit is on display in the Center’s Ingram Gallery through September 15, 2013. Admission is free for Frist Center members and $10.00 for adults. Visitors 18 and younger are admitted free of charge. Advance tickets can be purchased on site at the Frist Center. Frist Center members may reserve tickets by calling the Frist Center Member Hotline at 615.744.3248. During the run of Sensuous Steel, Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum and the Frist Center will offer reciprocal admission discounts when ticket stubs are presented. Each ticket stub from the Lane Motor Museum is good for one half-price admission at the Frist, and each Frist Center ticket stub can be used at the Lane Motor Museum to receive a discount on a single ticket. For additional information, visit www.fristcenter.org.

Photographer Bruce Sweetman documented the June 14, 2013 opening of the Sensuous Steel exhibit, offering the following gallery that highlights the wonderful and interesting selection of Art Deco automobiles on display at the Frist.

Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles – Photo Gallery

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection. Parisian coachbuilders Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi produced this special Delahaye for the 1937 Paris Auto Salon. The dark red leather interior and matching carpets were provided by Hermès.

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research and the Collier Collection

1934 Bugatti Type 46 Superprofile Coupe in the main gallery.

1934 Bugatti Type 46 Superprofile Coupe in the main gallery.

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster, Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster, Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster

1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster, Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust

Comments

  1. bryan cole says

    Beautiful cars, especially the delahaye teardrop coupes + the talbot -lagot-150c coupes. I wish !!!!

    • David Thompson says

      I agree, Bryan, about the F&F cars. On a different plane. But let’s stress: the cars are all beautiful.
      Even the motorcycles; I’ve always kinda liked the looks of the Indian (my Dad rode one on the Texas
      Highway Patrol in the early 30s), but it never occurred to me that those fenders were Art Deco.

  2. Chuck says

    What a wonderful “re-purposing” of a grand old post office building! Too bad those great autos were only visiting, but Nashville is convenientl to a large population in the SE.

    • David Thompson says

      Absolutely, Chuck. When the USPS finally goes broke (years ago, really), those old
      Depression era buildings will all be available for useful enterprises. This one was
      magic, though.

  3. Steve Guerrant says

    Not the first such show. Phoenix Art Museum did Curves of Steel a few years ago and it was a blockbuster. The catalog was beautifully done too. Love photos of this one. Thanks.

    • Alan Katz says

      I think several galleries have done car shows. I know the High Museum here in Atlanta did one, but I reading this carefully I see this: “first fine art museum exhibition devoted to vehicles of the Art Deco era”. I think the Art Deco focus is the distinction here.

      Looking forward to a Nashville trip soon…

      • Anonymous says

        Don’t know if it was featured as I don’t think I was on to SCD at the time. Turns out the exhibition was in 2007. Time flies. The catalog “Curves of Steel” has been re-printed and is available on Amazon or from the Museum store. Check it out. Cars and photos are fantastic. Well worth adding to your library.

    • David Thompson says

      Yes, Red! Had the old Indian look ever seemed Art Deco to you? It will always be so, in my eyes,
      after this. Perfect placement; no Harley, and certainly no Asian bike, would qualify.

  4. vittorio Orsi says

    This are in my wishing list!!!!!! What about Rolls and Bentleys???????????Thanks for the photos, just mouth watering………V. Orsi

    • David Thompson says

      Sorry, Vittorio. They’re too damned stodgy. This was 30’s STYLE; no dowdy old Brits allowed.

  5. Mariner Teed says

    Well, this works out great! I go to Atlanta every Labor Day wknd (NASCAR race) and am always looking for things to do on my return trip. I never take a direct route back to Toronto and I can guarantee there’ll be a Poncho with Ontario plates in the parking lot around Sept. 3. Tres cool and looking forward to seeing these beasts in 3D instead of a flat screen!

  6. William says

    Clearly the sense of style and flair that is so prevalent in that period is mostly gone.
    What incredible lines, simply beautiful!

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