Cars and art at the McNay Art Museum

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American Dreams: Classic Cars and Postwar Paintings On View at McNay Art Museum Until May 19

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San Antonio, TX– Organized by the McNay Art Museum, American Dreams: Classic Cars and Postwar Paintings is on view at the San Antonio museum until May 19. Inspired by a 2016 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) single collection gallery installation with a focus on 1961, this major exhibition will boldly pair examples of American fine art and design from the Golden Age. From the end of World War II through the mid-70s, Americans experienced the explosion of Abstract Expressionism, Pop art, and Op art; the mass production of automobiles; and an expanded market for luxury items. This exhibition captures this innovative moment in U.S. history by presenting 10 classic cars as modern sculpture paired with paintings from the McNay’s collection and select loans. The exhibition will be on view for 13 weeks, ending May 19, 2019.

 Photo - McNay Art Museum

Photo - McNay Art Museum

“Art museums across the country are expanding traditional definitions of art and artistic excellence, and thanks to American Dreams, modern and contemporary art at the McNay will now include sculpture in steel as true reflections of innovation in postwar America,” said Richard Aste, Director of the McNay. “With this exhibition and with everything we do, we continue to expand our narratives, reach new audiences, and speak directly to the backgrounds, cultures, and interests of more San Antonians than ever before.”

 Photo - McNay Art Museum

Photo - McNay Art Museum

Abstract paintings from the McNay’s collection feature strong representation of women artists including Judith Godwin, Grace Hartigan, Dorothy Hood, and Joan Mitchell, alongside their male contemporaries Sandu Darie, Friedel Dzubas, Hans Hofmann, Ralph Humphrey, George McNeil, Larry Rivers, and Frank Stella. Pictures by Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Ed Ruscha—some on loan for the exhibition—illustrate the Pop Art movement. Op paintings include a striking oil by Edna Andrade, a monumental work by Larry Poons, and a pulsating acrylic painting by Julian Stanczak. Together, these artworks represent key developments in American art following World War II through the 1970s.

While European car manufacturers created smaller more economical cars in the postwar period, American designers scaled up, opting for brawnier cars with more swagger and color options. Characterized by exaggerated tailfins, wrap-around windshields, and generous chrome detail, these classics of the 1950s and 1960s were also called dream cars. From a rare 1948 Tucker—one of only 51 manufactured—to the beloved 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, many of the cars on view pushed design boundaries through expansive volume, nontraditional color combinations, and highly styled flourishes.

 Photo - McNay Art Museum

Photo - McNay Art Museum

Additional highlights include a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief convertible that includes missile-shaped side trim and a 1956 Chrysler DeSoto Firedome sporting factory colors of pink and iridescent plum. Classics restored to factory correct interiors and exteriors are joined by several restoration modification “resto-mod” cars, most notably the Spurs Camaro restored and generously lent by Larry Mills, Executive Vice President, HOLT Companies, San Antonio. Five of the cars are generously lent from the Richard L. Burdick Collection, formerly Dick’s Classic Car Garage and Museum in San Marcos. All others are on loan from private collections in Houston and the Hill Country.

 Photo - McNay Art Museum

Photo - McNay Art Museum

“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.”

During the exhibition, a raffle will be held for the chance to win a 1953 Chrysler New Yorker Taxi featuring a yellow exterior with a checkered stripe. The drawing will be held at the exhibition’s closing on Sunday, May 19, 2019. Tickets can be purchased in amounts from $10 to $100 online. For additional details and rules, please visit www.mcnayart.org

American Dreams: Classic Cars and Postwar Paintings is organized by the McNay’s Head of Curatorial Affairs, René Paul Barilleaux; Head of Education, Kate Carey; and Assistant Curator, Jackie Edwards.

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About the McNay Art Museum

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The McNay Art Museum engages a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts. Built in the 1920s by artist and educator Marion Koogler McNay, the Spanish Colonial Revival residence became the site of Texas’s first museum of modern art when it opened in 1954. Today, more than 140,000 visitors a year enjoy works by modern masters including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Joan Mitchell, Alice Neel, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The 23 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds include sculptures by Robert Indiana, Luis A. Jiménez Jr., George Rickey, Joel Shapiro, and Kiki Smith. The 45,000 square-foot Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions, designed by internationally renowned French architect Jean-Paul Viguier, features three significant exhibitions annually. 

For almost 65 years, the McNay has enchanted visitors with its art, architecture, and ambiance. The museum offers rich and varied exhibitions as well as rotating displays in the Main Collection Galleries from the 20,000 works in the collection; more than 45,000 adults, teachers, students, and families take advantage of a variety of education programs and innovative educational resources.

6000 North New Braunfels Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78209
www.mcnayart.org