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Picks and Pans Review: Automobile and Culture

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by Gerald Silk, Angelo Tito Anselmi, Strother MacMinn & Henry Flood Robert Jr.

There have been plenty of analyses of the impact of the automobile on modern society. This sumptuous volume reflects the influence of cars on art—from stylized photographs to abstract paintings—and the influence of art on cars in the work of auto designers. The text, by four men with various specialties in art and design, is not always calculated to please the casual reader: “[Painter] Anton Van Dahlen reduces cars to Mondrianesque horizontals and verticals in an attempt to demythologize the car.” Eh? The 488 illustrations, 112 in color, stand by themselves though. They date back to around 1483, when Leonardo da Vinci drew a sketch for a war machine; it looks in retrospect something like a 1957 Plymouth. Among the other artists whose work is shown are Matisse, Miró, Dali, Oldenburg and Warhol. Photographs illustrate the auto designs of such men as Franklin Hershey (1955 Thunderbird convertible), Felice Bianchi Anderloni (1949 Ferrari Barchetta) and Buckminster Fuller (Dymaxion, 1934). Most of us could never hope to possess either the cars or the art in this book, but nothing goes together better than cars and dreaming. (Abrams, $45)