1936 Delahaye 135M Competition Coupe

Sensuous Steel Art Deco Exhibit Opening

In conjunction with the opening of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee will host a panel discussion with the exhibition’s Guest Curator, Ken Gross, and noted automotive authorities and collectors on Friday, June 14, 2013. Panel participants include Richard Adatto, automotive historian and exhibition catalogue contributor; Jeff Lane, president of Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum and exhibition lender; and Peter Mullin of the Mullin Automotive Museum and Foundation and exhibition lender.

This event, entitled “Curator and Collectors’ Perspectives: ‘Behind the Headlights,'” will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Frist Center’s Auditorium. The discussion will focus on the stories behind the creation of the Art Deco-inspired machines featured in Sensuous Steel. Visitors will learn about the personalities who produced these cars, the stylists and artisans who designed and built them, and the clientele who owned them from some of the most prominent automotive authorities in the nation. Gallery admission is required to attend; members will be admitted free. Seating is first come, first seated.

The first fine art museum exhibition devoted to automobiles of the Art Deco era, Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles presents 18 automobiles and two motorcycles from the 1930s and ’40s drawn from some of the most renowned car collectors and collections in the automotive world. Like the Frist Center’s historic building, the automobiles included in Sensuous Steel display the classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design. An eclectic, machine-inspired decorative style that thrived between the two World Wars, Art Deco combined craft motifs with industrial materials and lavish embellishments. Automakers embraced the sleek iconography of motion and aircraft-inspired materials connotative of Art Deco, creating memorable automobiles that still thrill all who see them.

Organized by the Frist Center with Guest Curator Ken Gross, former Petersen Automotive Museum director, the exhibition will be on view in the Center’s Ingram Gallery from June 14 through September 15, 2013.

Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles – Featured Vehicles

  • 1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet, Collection of Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum;
  • 1930 Henderson KJ Streamline, Collection of Frank Westfall;
  • 1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster, Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust;
  • 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan, Collection of Academy of Art University Automobile Museum, San Francisco;
  • 1934 Bugatti Type 46 Superprofile Coupe, Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin;
  • 1934 Model 40 Special SpeedsterTM, Owned and restored by Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan;
  • 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106 Sport Coupe by LeBaron, Collection of Robert and Sandra Bahre;
  • 1934 Voisin Type C27 Aerosport Coupe, Collection of Merle and Peter Mullin;
  • 1935 Chrysler Imperial Model C-2 Airflow Coupe, Collection of John and Lynn Heimerl, Suffolk, VA;
  • 1936 Cord 810 Beverly Sedan, Collection of Richard and Debbie Fass;
  • 1936 Delahaye 135M Figoni & Falaschi Competition Coupe, Collection of Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection;
  • 1936 Stout Scarab, Collection of Larry Smith;
  • 1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster, Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research at the Collier Collection;
  • 1938 Hispano-Suiza H6B Dubonnet “Xenia” Coupe, Collection of Peter Mullin Automotive Museum Foundation;
  • 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop Coupe, Collection of J. Willard Marriott, Jr.
  • 1938 Tatra T97, Collection of Lane Motor Museum;
  • 1939 Bugatti Type 57C by Vanvooren, Collection of Margie and Robert E. Petersen, Courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles,
  • 1939 Delage D8-120S Saoutchik Cabriolet, Collection of John W. Rich, Jr.;
  • 1940 Indian Chief, Collection of Gary Sanford;
  • 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, Collection of Chrysler Group, LLC.

The exhibition will be accompanied by two audio tours, one for adults and one for children. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, published by Peter Bodensteiner and Stance & Speed, LLC in conjunction with the Frist Center. All automobile photographs are by Peter Harholdt. The catalogue contains scholarly essays by exhibition curator Ken Gross, who will discuss automobile design in the culture of the 1920s and 1930s, and independent historian Thomas Mellins, whose essay places the automobiles in the context of the international explosion of the Art Deco style in design, architecture, and the visual arts. Individual object entries are by Ken Gross, Jonathan Stein, and Richard Adatto. Ken Gross is the editor.

Ticket Information
Admission to Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles 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.

To accommodate out-of-town visitors, a limited number of non-member advance tickets for each day of the exhibition will be available online through NowPlayingNashville.com, an initiative of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Each order carries a $1.50 convenience charge that benefits the Community Foundation. Purchasers will download a voucher that will be redeemable at the Frist Center for exhibition admission on the specific date for which the voucher has been bought. Tickets purchased through NowPlayingNashville.com are non-refundable.

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. The Lane Motor Museum is located at 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville. Learn more at www.lanemotormuseum.org.

Unique all-inclusive travel packages to see Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles will be available through the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. website. In addition to lodging and admission to Sensuous Steel, packages also include tickets to Nashville’s famed Lane Motor Museum, and more. For information and to book your package, go to www.visitmusiccity.com/sensuoussteel.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About the Frist Center
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery, open until 5:30 p.m. each day, features interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and younger and to Frist Center members. With possible exception for some specially-ticketed exhibitions, Frist Center admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for seniors, military and college students with ID. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings, 5–9 p.m. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3247. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. and Sundays, 1–5:30 p.m., with the Frist Center Café opening at noon.

For additional information, call (615) 244-3340 or visit www.fristcenter.org.

[Source: Frist Center; photo credit: Peter Harholdt]


  1. says

    Thanks to all for lovely comments about Sensuous Steel. It truly is a magnificent gathering of some of the finest Art Deco autos in the world. Thanks to Sports Car Digest and photographer Bruce Sweetman for the gallery of stunning photos. We’re grateful to guest curator Ken Gross and those organizations, institutions and individual collectors who are sharing their prized possessions with us. They are being admired and deeply appreciated! Come see us in Nashville at the Frist Center and at the Lane Motor Museum.

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