Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sculpted in Steel

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston's new exhibition, Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles (1929-1940), opened with grand fanfare and great reviews on February 21. Since then, I've been more than a tiny bit eager to see the innovative designs for myself. 


Sculpted in Steel showcases 14 cars and three motorcycles, along with historical images and videos. The vehicles featured display the classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design — the innovative, machine-inspired style that developed between the two World Wars.

According to information provided by MFAH, "The Art Deco movement began in France in the early 1910s, but its development was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. The style reemerged across Europe after the war and was propelled to international prominence with the success of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925.

"During this period, automakers embraced the sleek iconography of streamlining and introduced industrial materials to present aircraft-inspired body styles. Grilles and hood ornaments, headlamps, windows and instrument panels are just some of the elements that were transformed through the use of chrome detailing and innovative aerodynamics."

Gary Tinterow, director of MFAH, said, “The 1920s to 1930s proved to be one of the most creative eras for international design in all mediums, and Art Deco styling influenced everything from fashion and fine art to architecture and autos. Sculpted in Steel includes rare and one-of-a-kind examples that epitomize the artful approach to industry employed by the leading auto designers of the day. These dramatic automobiles and motorcycles are truly works of art.”

While at the museum today, I discovered Sculpted in Steel Is being complemented by an exhibition of Art Deco objects from the museum’s permanent collection. So, I stayed to check it out, as well.

Deco Nights: Evenings in the Jazz Age
 features costumes, accessories, furniture, metalwork and glass, along with photographs, books, and works on paper that reflect entertaining in the 1920s and 1930s.

Both exhibitions are truly amazing. Each is fun to view. Fun enough to see again.

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