Piston Head show exhibits contemporary car art in Miami

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Those close to Miami, Florida, next week have an opportunity to check out Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile. The exhibit of fourteen unique reimagined automobiles "will reflect art's longstanding relationship with the car as a cultural icon and fetish object replete with physical and symbolic possibilities." Attendees will see work by artists such as the late Keith Haring (his enamel-covered 1963 Buick Special is pictured above), Ron Arad, César, Dan Colen, Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Virginia Overton, Richard Prince (his 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T is in the gallery) and Franz West.

Even if steel cars aren't your thing, fans of Ferrari will be pleased to learn that the LaFerrari will make a rare North American appearance, with Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Callaghan creating a new signature 'rubbing' of the Italian automaker's hybrid supercar. The artist's process, which "engages the precious surfaces and sculpted form of the limited edition vehicle," will become part of the exhibition.

The show is open to the public starting on December 3, running in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach, an annual international cultural art fair. Check out the full press release below for details.
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PISTON HEAD: Artists Engage the Automobile

DECEMBER 3 – 8TH, 2013,

"I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals...consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object." -- Roland Barthes

NEW YORK/MIAMI: Venus Over Manhattan is pleased to announce PISTON HEAD: Artists
Engage the Automobile, an exhibition of automobiles transformed into sculptures by leading
modern and contemporary artists in the years since 1970. The fourteen works on view will reflect art's longstanding relationship with the car as a cultural icon and fetish object replete with physical and symbolic possibilities. Opening December 4th in Miami Beach, Florida, the exhibition will be presented on the top level of 1111 Lincoln Road, the dramatic open-air parking structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron.

PISTON HEAD will run through December 8th in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach, the
annual art fair considered one of the most magnetic events of the international cultural calendar.

PISTON HEAD is powered by Ferrari.

The exhibition includes works by Ron Arad, Bruce High Quality Foundation, César, Dan Colen and
Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Virginia Overton, Olivier Mosset/ Jacob
Kassay/Servane Mary, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Salvatore Scarpitta, Kenny
Scharf, and Franz West. Additionally, Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Callaghan will create a new work – a signature 'rubbing' of Ferrari's LaFerrari state-of-the-art hybrid supercar, which was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show and will be on view with PISTON HEAD in Miami.
Callaghan's performative process, engaging the precious surfaces and sculpted form of the limitededition vehicle, will be part of the exhibition.

Since 1886, when the Benz-Patent Motorwagen became the first modern motorcar, automobiles
have shaped human experience. The quintessential machine of modern life, the car has defined
cities, redefined our relationships to the natural world and one another, challenged technology, and fired the imaginations of countless artists in every discipline. Whether via the appeal of its speed to the Italian Futurists, or its mass-produced utility for Pop artists, the automobile has preoccupied artists consistently.

Objects on view in PISTON HEAD are not only about the car in contemporary culture, but are
actual cars -- fully realized sculptures comprised of vehicles that can roll on four wheels or once did. By removing these works from the white-walled conventions of contemporary galleries and museums, and placing them in the context of a working parking garage, Venus Over Manhattan
highlights the way the participating artists have exploited tensions between refinement and brute power, aesthetics and utility.

The artists represented in PISTON HEAD have approached the car as both object and subject in
numerous ways. Layered in Bondo, Richard Prince's American muscle cars are monochromatic,
neutral compositions reminiscent of Minimalist painting and sculpture (another brand of American muscle). Conceptual Art and Process Art come to mind when viewing Virginia Overton's ruggedly elegant Dodge Ram, transformed by a mountain of sand to obscure most of the vehicle's defining details.

In the painterly vein, Britain's Damien Hirst offers Spot Mini, a classic, diminutive British
automobile covered in the artist's trademark colorful spots. Similarly, Keith Haring applied his own recognizable imagery to a well-worn Buick, employing his signature calligraphic style to transform the car into a rolling painting.

In contrast to these more painterly works, the car of the late Viennese artist Franz West suggests a sculptural approach tinged with wit. West replaced the existing "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament on his 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow with one of his signature Passstuck sculptures. This small gesture transforms West's personal ride into a commentary on the car as a conveyance of status, identity, and wish fulfillment. Bruce High Quality Foundation's recently completed work – a pair of entangled Volkswagen Beetles – is a more suggestive take on cars as symbols of what the artists describe as "passion and suffering."

Brute power has always been the companion of elegance in the world of automobiles and has been
frequently addressed in 20th century art history. In a series of works called Compresions des
Voitures and created from the 1960s until the artist's death in 1998, renowned French sculptor
César crushed automobiles in order to suggest the collision of classicism and contemporary art.
PISTON HEAD will present one of these celebrated works, a "car brick" from among the group
César exhibited in the Pavilion of the French Republic at the Venice Biennale of 1995. César's work will echo in the contribution of Israeli-born artist and industrial designer Ron Arad, whose own car compression has rendered a six-inch thick 'canvas.'

Power of another sort – the destructive power of entropy and chaos that result from neglect and
mistreatment – will be on view in a contribution from Dan Colen and Nate Lowman. Their
collaborative work, created in 2008, is a dilapidated four-door sedan, stuffed with TV sets. Lucien Smith's sorrowfully pockmarked and crumbling vehicle once served as the target at a shooting range. With it's lyric-like title of "The sound of the engine still running and for the last time they locked eyes, together again in the end," Smith's work draws chaos away from the merely sad, toward the Romantic. From such glamorous nihilism, PISTON HEAD comes full circle to the joyful, unbridled magic of Kenny Scharf's painted dinosaur of a family vehicle.

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