"A company's encounter with an artist is as complex as the perfect presentation of perfect products. " (1)
Andy Warhol's Cars series was commissioned by Mercedes-Benz in 1986 to celebrate the centenary of the invention of the motor car.
The artist was to do a series of 80 car pictures using 20 selected Mercedes models
This was the last series Warhol did, as he passed away the following year, before finishing it.
The strongest of the lot, were the 1954 Grand Prix car (see above) and the predominantly black paintings of a 1954 300 SL Coupe.
Cars has been exhibited just twice in its entirety in public: in 1988 Tübingen in 1988, and at the Albertina, Vienna from 22 January–16 May 2010.
Half of the series was shown in Milton Keynes in September 2001.
Although the artist is primarily known for his more iconic work featuring Marilyn Monroe or Campbell’s soup cans, the artist, who never learned how to drive, was always fascinated with cars. The very first car he drew was his brother’s produce delivery truck when he was 18 years old. Aside from his BMW M1 Art Car, he made giant canvases of car crashes and his "Twelve Cadillacs" in the ’60s and prints of VWs and trucks in the ’80s. To Warhol, the Cadillac was as iconic as Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Monroe, the Campbell’s soup can or the Coca-Cola bottle.
It seems only logical that cars would be a recurring theme in Andy Warhol’s work. With pop art honing in on, and poking fun at the implications of mass-produced consumer culture, the automobile represented one of American industry’s biggest triumphs and most impactful contributions on a global scale.
"Car paintings add some twists to the Warhol legend, showing the artist once more selling himself and his talent without quite selling out." (2)
(1) Edzard Reuter, Daimler-Benz AG chairman, in his catalogue introduction to ''Andy Warhol, Cars,'' exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in 1988.
(2) Roberta Smith for the NYT in 1988