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The Allure of the Automobile

An exhibit of the 20th century's most stunning one-of-a-kind cars

by Tamara Warren in Culture on 24 March 2010

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Atlanta's High Museum of Art explores the bespoke car as a work of art in the exhibit "The Allure of the Automobile" that opened this past weekend. Known for its strong decorative arts content, the museum celebrates the one-of-a-kind European and American cars of the 20th century for their fine forms as well as their historical significance.

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Each of the eighteen cars in the show—ranging from the opulent Depression era 1933 Pierce Arrow Silver Arrow and the 1937 Delage D8-120s to icons such as the 1961 Ferrari 250 Short-Wheelbase Berlinetta SEFAC Hot Rod and the 1959 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray—put the emphasis on craftsmanship and detailed styling, divided into pre- and post-World War II categories. Porsche contributed the rare 1938/39 Porsche Type 64 to the exhibit, which marks the first occasion that the shell of that lustrous Porsche body has left Germany. "This exhibit isn't about cars," said Michael Bartsch, vice president and COO of Porsche.

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Design relevance and automotive pedigree come together to illustrate the evolved styling of elite street and concept cars. Guest curator Ken Gross, an automotive historian and former director of Peterson Automotive Museum, contributes extensive background on each car and provides fodder for car enthusiast attendees. While the High's Curator of Decorative Art and Design, Ron Laboco, isn't a car expert, he instead approaches the cars in the exhibit as singular works of art. "It's about what denotes a car as a masterpiece," said Labaco. "It's a direct connection between decorative arts. You can compare them with Faberge Eggs."

The Allure of The Automobile runs through 20 June 2010.

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