Synopses & Reviews
Americans have come to take the car for granted. Buying, driving, and keeping up our cars are simple facts of modern life. Those who don’t own cars can hardly escape them since they are perhaps the most ubiquitous and arguably the most dominant visual form of our century. But how often do we look at them as art objects? Among the least analyzed and understood of the commercial arts, the American car continues to be one of our most significant and creative contributions to the history of design. Cars have shaped America like no other visual form, except perhaps the movies. Today, however, the movies are acknowledged as a legitimate art form. Surely it is time that cars were taken more seriously. And yet, how can we? Basic questions remain unanswered: How is a car created? How is the idea for a car conceived, how does it develop into a design, and how does the design become a finished product? Does the design process affect the ultimate appearance of the car and, if so, how? Answering these questions will help us begin to see cars as works of art. The questions throw a spotlight on the role played by artistic creativity within the automotive industry; the answers reveal the unique form it has taken. This book presents the first in-depth analysis of the car design profession in this country. It includes the first series of interviews with America’s great car designers and the first to approach them and their discipline from an art-historical perspective. In fact, this is the first time the actual process of designing cars has been seriously studied. Armi's novel approach has been to explore the personalities of the car designers with an eye on the effect of those personalities on the process of creation. This book will appeal to all with an interest in the American car: the consumer, the designer, the members of UAW, the auto executive, the advertising executive, and the art historian.
About the Author
C. Edson Armi is Professor of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Masons and Sculptors in Romanesque Burgundy: The New Aesthetic of Cluny III (Penn State), the winner of the 1983 CINOA Art History Prize, and The "Headmaster" of Chartres and the Origins of "Gothic" Sculpture (1994, Penn State).