Visitors to San Antonio's McNay Art Museum are used to seeing the works of masters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh on canvas on the walls of the museum on New Braunfels Ave.
But News Radio 1200 WOAI reports, starting today, the McNay is putting pedal to the metal and opening an exhibition to celebrate the art of the open road.
In a three month exhibition, the McNay is pairing twelve classic post war American cars, from the last Tucker ever built, complete with its center headlight, to a 1958 Cadillac El Dorado with tail fins reaching to the heavens, to a sexy 1963 Corvette and a bright red 1958 Chevy Bel Air, along with the 'pop art' of American painters and sculptors like Judith Godwin and Roy Lichtenstein to present a new type of canvas, one that depicts what many people feel is true American art, inherent in the designs of people like Harley Earl and Lee Iacocca.
"This show speaks in particular to one of the great passions of Texans, and that is the love of the automobile," McNay Director Richard Aste said.
"American Dreams: Classic Cars and Postwar Paintings," celebrates the automobile of the time as art unto itself, with its exaggerated tailfins, wrap-around windshields, and chrome detail everywhere.
Aste says what he calls 'sculpture in steel' is a true reflection of innovation in postwar America. He says these celebrations of America came at a time when European carmakers were focusing on economy for a buyer broken by war.
"This is the first era where the U.S. takes center stage, global center stage, over Europe," he said. "Before then, U.S. art was just catching up to Europe."
All of the vehicles are on loan from Texas collectors. The Tucker, for example, designated as 'Tucker 51,' was the last of the handful of cars made by the pioneering designer, and is the only Tucker in Texas.
“The unique visual ‘conversations’ that occur between paintings and cars in this exhibition reinforce the triumph of American art, design, and production beginning just after World War II,” said René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs. “In this expansive moment, America is at the forefront in the visual arts and high style, and a major force in the postwar economic boom. By presenting significant artworks alongside classic automobiles, the McNay once again expands the definitions of modern art while engaging new audiences of museum-goers."
Aste says cars like these are also bound to bring back some powerful memories...as so much of our lives are bound with our cars.
"We want people to speak about their first car, or their parents' first car, or their grandparents' first car," he said. "We are setting the tone properly for 1950s and 1960s America."