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North Carolina Museum of Art to feature Art Deco automobiles

Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s - October 1, 2016–January 15, 2017

Art Deco Cars

Peugeot 402 Darl’mat, 1936, Jim Patterson/Patterson Collection, Photo © 2016 Michael Furman

The art deco period—from the 1920s to 1940s—is known for blending modern decorative arts and industrial design and is today synonymous with luxury and glamour. The cars from this era are no exception. While today manufacturers strive for economy and efficiency, during the art deco period elegance reigned supreme. With bold, sensuous shapes, hand-crafted details, and luxurious finishes, the 14 cars and three motorcycles in Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s provide stunning examples of car design at its peak.

The exhibition is guest curated by Ken Gross, renowned automotive journalist and former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

“These exquisite cars—several of which are truly one-of-a-kind—show what can happen when an automaker’s imagination takes the wheel,” says Gross. “There were absolutely no limitations or constraints placed on design, and it shows beautifully. This exhibition is a perfect demonstration of the intersection of art and cars, and the title Rolling Sculpture could not be more accurate.”

Highlights of Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s include:

A one-of-a-kind aluminum-bodied Speedster hand-built for Edsel Ford in 1934 when he was President of Ford Motor Company


A Figoni and Falaschi Delahaye "Salon de Paris" Roadster that was lost in Algeria for decades, then recovered and restored in Switzerland


One of five surviving Stout Scarabs, an aircraft-inspired, beetle-shaped Depression-era precursor of the modern minivan


The legendary Bugatti Aérolithe, a streamlined, magnesium-bodied sports coupe that looks as though Jules Verne designed it


The radical, fully enclosed BMW R7 Concept motorcycle, hidden in a crate in 1935 and discovered 70 years later


The Chrysler Imperial Airflow, inspired by high-speed passenger trains—a car so advanced, it scared the public and nearly put Chrysler out of business

Chrysler_Imperial_Model_C-2_Airflow__1935_594_450 (1)

One of three surviving Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrows,the art moderne star of the 1933 Chicago Century of Progress exposition


The last Ruxton of only 96 sold, a stunning, low-roofed sedan with an unusual layered paint scheme by interior designer Joseph Urban


In the galleries the cars and motorcycles will be categorized and interpreted based on three themes: Art Deco, Streamlining, and Yesterday’s Car of the Future. “These categories help bring historical and cultural context to the cars and motorcycles featured in the exhibition,” says Caroline Rocheleau, NCMA coordinating curator of Rolling Sculpture. “Many people know a little something about the 1930s but might not be familiar with the era’s automobiles. We hope visitors enjoy learning about the cars’ connection to the art world, their innovative engineering and design, and the reasons these automobiles, hailed as the ‘cars of the future,’ are not seen on the road today.”

For more information on the exhibition and to see images of all featured automobiles, visit

Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and ’40s

October 1, 2016–January 15, 2017

East Building, Meymandi Exhibition Gallery

About the North Carolina Museum of Art


The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the South. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

The Museum opened West Building, home to the permanent collection, in 2010. The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, governor, and an agency of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Susan Kluttz, secretary.

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