9 18th Street
Friday, January 10, 2014–Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Cars & Automobiles
Opening: On Friday January 10, 2014 from 4:00 to 8:00 pm
The exhibition is on view through January 21, from 11 am to 8 pm
Contemporary artistic practice seems to have few qualms over what it takes as subject—from the most commoditized or banal objects to the most rarified material, nearly any matter is now capable of supplying content and inspiring form. “Machine, Automobile,” explores the car’s explosive prominence over the past half-century, asking what commonalities emerge from the car’s centrality in a range of artistic practice while engaging the incommensurable diversity in the works’ aesthetic form and pictorial concerns.
The car entered Iran about one hundred years ago, integrating itself into social life and, roughly fifty years later, into art. Charles Hossein Zenderoudi’s Fiat (1961) was a first to break pictorial convention by establishing the car as a painterly subject. Denoting the car as a fact of social life, and carrying with its artistic representation the cultural shifts of an increasingly industrialized and globalized Iran, Zenderoudi’s painting was the first in a proliferation of artistic works that take the car as a romanticized object, compelling artistic form, or quotidian fact of an urbanized landscape.
Understanding the car’s import within the varied artistic oeuvres on view in “Machine, Automobile,” demands we ask what social and artistic considerations, individual desires in the present, and collective ideals for the future, converge in the representation of this metal machine. While we could seek a more sociological analysis attempting to qualify and analyze the magnetic fascination galvanized by the car, or look to the artistic market and ask whether the prominence of the car’s image is driven by popular demand, such explanations would reduce the intriguing complexity and nuance of the car’s place in life and in art. Suffice to say that the only justification that holds true—inexplicably, yet continually, compelling—is just that of the car.