Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948

October 16 2009 - March 14 2010
Seventh Floor

The meticulous, highly skilled, and imaginative original design drawings presented in Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948 are a fascinating window into the significant and widely overlooked contribution of designers and visual artists to the development of the automobile and automobile culture in America during the first half of the twentieth century. Created by industrial designers, architects, draftsmen, and illustrators, each drawing conveys information about the particular project, the context in which it was made, the company’s standards, and the designer’s personal aesthetic. These drawings might convince a manufacturer to restyle a fender or radiator grille, persuade a consumer to buy a new car, or, as in the case of drawings of highway design and roadside structures, provide valuable information for an urban planner. Today, when digital imagery dominates practically all fields of product design and increasingly influences our visual landscape, the drawings on view reveal the beauty and craft of hand-rendered design and provide evidence of the visual strategies and techniques used to translate abstract ideas into concrete form.

Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948 is organized by The Wolfsonian–Florida International University. It is part of “Celebrating America,” a series of exhibitions that explore various aspects of the American experience from the early 1900s to the present and made possible with support from American Express and Continental Airlines, the Official Airline of The Wolfsonian–FIU.

The Wolfsonian–FIU thanks Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf for their generous sponsorship of the accompanying exhibition publication.

We gratefully acknowledge the lenders to the exhibition: Leonard A. Lauder, Theodore W. Pietsch III, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, Jason Wenig, and Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.

Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948
Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948
Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948
Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948
Styled for the Road: The Art of Automobile Design, 1908–1948