Greenpoint, October, 2015

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coupe d'Arte

I passed this late-60's (?) Cadillac Coupe de Ville on the BQE yesterday afternoon, and then I let it pass me to have another look. Was this the apogee of American automobile design? Apres moi le deluge? Maybe not, but it was truly a thing of beauty.

A couple of days ago, in a more vertical context, I had another kind of car moment. One of the pieces in the New Museum's very strong Ostnostalgia show is a 1972 Fiat 126 that the British Artist Simon Starling had painted in the red-and-white colors of the Polish flag (thus the title Flaga) and driven from Turin, Italy, where it was made, to Poland. From 1973, they were made in Poland thus becoming Polski Fiats.

When I lived in Warsaw in the early 1990s, these Maly ("Little") Fiats were all over. I even drove my friend Maciej's illegally on a country road once. Like the old VW Beetles, they were cheap enough to allow people (like my mother) who wouldn't otherwise have a car have one. There were tiny shops all over Warsaw to provide the spare parts to keep them going, and it was common to see a guy get on a tram with a fender or even passenger-side door under his arm.

As I stood under the Maluch ("Small one," as in child) suspended on a gallery wall, I wondered whether I would survive if it fell off its brace? Would it be classified as an automobile accident or an art accident?

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