A Fascinating Retrospective of Art Deco on Wheels

Sculpted in Steel

In the early years of automobiles, the main focus for manufacturers was creating an elegant piece of art. Obviously some meticulous engineering also needed to be added to the mix, but in the modern era their design priorities have become increasingly dedicated to economy and efficiency.

With that in mind, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston has been taking a step back in time with its exhibition “Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1929–1940”, which celebrates cars and motorcycles designed during that iconic period. Sculpted in Steel showcases the “classic grace and modern luxury of Art Deco design” featured in 14 cars and three motorcycles from the United States and around the world.

As the organisers explain, the 1920s to 1930s was one of the most creative eras for international design in all mediums, with art deco influencing everything from fashion and fine art to architecture and transportation. “Automakers embraced the sleek iconography of streamlining and introduced industrial materials to present aircraft-inspired body styles. Grilles and hood ornaments, headlamps, windows and instrument panels are just some of the elements that were transformed through the use of chrome detailing and innovative aerodynamics. The cars and motorcycles on view in Sculpted in Steel were crafted from the finest materials of the time.”

The exhibition continues until 31 May 2016.


Sculpted in Steel: Art Deco Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1929–1940

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

February 21–May 31, 2016

Pictures: © 2008 Peter Harholdt