Pink Fin

The annual Monterey festivities are just around the corner and we'll have a team on hand to cover as much of it as possible, just like last year. One of the things we love about all of the various events going on around the Monterey Peninsula every August is that there is literally something for anyone with an automotive appetite. Classics and vintage cars make up most of the entries, but there are supercars and luxury cars aplenty. And there are also tons of things to capture the attention of automotive lovers who don't necessarily need a new car. Lots of automobilia is available, particularly at the auctions. One prime example is the legendary "Pink Fin" painting of a classic Caddy.

This is the work many consider to be the beginning of contemporary automotive art. After seeing a '59 Cadillac tail fin at an auto show in Northern England, Harold Cleworth fell in love. Years later he saw another similar car and decided he'd take a stab at immortalizing it. This was in 1975, and not many artists were making a living selling pictures of cars. It kicked off a career that has included the Caddy and an equally famous follow-up, a black 1958 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing. These and other works have appeared on magazine covers as well as in galleries around the world. His originals have sold for $18,000 to $40,000, so there must be something in drawing pictures of cars after all.

The "Pink Fin" painting has been in a private collection for 20 years, but bidders will be able to make it theirs, if the price is right. Stop by the Gooding tent at the Equestrian Center at Pebble Beach before Saturday, August 18, 2007 or visit for more info. Full press release after the jump.

[Source: Gooding & Company]



Harold Cleworth's original 1975 canvas, representing the beginning of contemporary automotive art, comes to auction after 20 years in a private collection

Woodland Hills, Calif., (July 2007) – The painting that began today's modern automotive art movement is going up for sale at the prestigious Gooding Auction after the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Saturday, August 18, 2007.

Pink Fin was inspired by a '59 Cadillac tail fin that Harold Cleworth saw at an auto show in Northern England. Painted by Cleworth in 1975, this piece was the first automotive painting to kick off a wave of other automotive portraits. The painting has been a part of a private contemporary art collection for the past two decades.

"The Pink Fin established my career as an automotive artist," said Cleworth. "I saw a silver 1959 convertible Cadillac at a motor show in England and years later in the U.S., another classic Cadillac–in pink! Both left an impression on me so I decided to paint the Pink Fin."

The painted fin started Cleworth's poised career and led to the painting of his next wildly popular work, a black 1958 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing with open doors facing forward. His image was seen in magazines internationally, on TV shows and movie backdrops. The original disappeared from public view more than 25 years ago. Cleworth originals are now rarely offered for public sale and range around $18,000 to $40,000 per piece.

After graduating from Manchester College of Art in the U.K. and working on album designs for artist such as The Who and The Rolling Stones at Decca Records in London, Cleworth brought his talent to California in the early '70s. The automobile was his muse for years to follow, as it represented a difficult time in American culture. Cleworth's trademark style of super-realism is instantly recognizable, and his 33-year career has moved the art world to see fine automobile art as more than just cars.

While much of his work has exhibited at galleries throughout California, Cleworth has also been commissioned by private collectors for portraits of their Bugattis, Duesenbergs and Ferraris, as well as automobile companies such as Saab, Isuzu, Ford, Chevrolet and Lincoln Mercury. He has also created collector and limited editions for many events including Los Angeles and Chicago Auto Shows.

The Gooding Auction will take place on Saturday, August 18, 2007, after the Pebble Beach Concours. It will be held at the equestrian grounds for the first time in history. For more information, please call 310-899-1960 or visit

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