The Museum of Modern Art announces Automania, an exhibition that will investigate the conflicted feelings compulsion, fixation, desire, and rage—that developed in response to cars and car culture in the 20th century. On view from July 4, 2021 through January 2, 2022, this twopart exhibition will consist of presentations in the third-floor galleries and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, showcasing a total of nine cars from the Museum’s collection. Taking its name from the 1964 Oscar-nominated animation by Halas and Batchelor, Automania will examine the car as a modern industrial product, transportation innovator, and style icon, as well as the generator of fatalities, traffic-choked environments, and ecological disaster in the oil age. Automania is organized by Juliet Kinchin, former Curator; Paul Galloway, Collection Specialist; and Andrew Gardner, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design.
Automania will explore the ways in which motor vehicles reshaped how people lived, worked, and enjoyed themselves over the course of the 20th century, and the continuing positive and negative imprint on the design and organization of today’s built environment. The third-floor gallery presentation will bring together varied materials largely drawn from the Museum’s collection, including cars, car parts, architectural models, films, photographs, posters, paintings, and sculptures. The wide range of works on view will include Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1898 print L’Automobiliste, Lily Reich’s 1930s designs for a tubular-steel car seat, photographs of American car factories (c. 1930–32) by Margaret Bourke-White, a Volkswagen Beetle (designed 1938), Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1955 drawings for a “Road Machine,” Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times (1963) by Andy Warhol, a Jorge Rigamonti 1966–70 photocollage illustrating a dystopic view of environmental destruction in Venezuela, and a 1946 Cisitalia 202 GT Car.
Automania will also invite visitors to take an up-close view of objects that Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) compared to ancient Greek temples and Roland Barthes provocatively likened to “the great Gothic cathedrals…the supreme creation of an era,” with a presentation of five cars in the Sculpture Garden. Included in this display will be the recently acquired Citroën DS 23 sedan (designed 1954–67) and a Porsche 911 coupé (1965), both of which will be on view at MoMA for the first time.
“Cars have reimagined mobility, connecting us across great distances at ever greater speed, but this increased freedom and economic empowerment have come at the expense of tremendous human suffering and environmental damage,” says Juliet Kinchin. “Throughout the 20th century the car has inspired innumerable examples of innovation, social transformation, and critical debate among designers, architects, artists, filmmakers, and photographers.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, featuring essays by Juliet Kinchin, Paul Galloway, and Andrew Gardner. Organized into six thematic chapters, the catalogue will present nine cars from the Museum’s collection alongside related works.
The exhibition is made possible by Allianz, MoMA’s partner for design and innovation.
Generous funding is provided by Kristen and Andrew Shapiro.
Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, the Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, The Contemporary Arts Council, Eva and Glenn Dubin, Alice and Tom Tisch, Mimi Haas, the Noel and Harriette Levine Endowment, The David Rockefeller Council, the William Randolph Hearst Endowment Fund, the Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Anne Dias, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., Kenneth C. Griffin, The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder.
Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Brett and Daniel Sundheim, the Terra Foundation for American Art, Karen and Gary Winnick, and Anna Marie and Robert F. Shapiro.
MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.