Cars as Art: Part One

cars as art Claremore

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The purpose of any art, whether flat surface, sculpted, or music, is to express feelings and evoke emotion in the patron.

Nearly all art is commercial.  Michelangelo, Botticelli and Raphael shared the Medici family as patrons. The Medici’s commissioned (ordered) the art done, then paid the bills.

In today’s world, many of the patrons or sponsors of art are tasking that art to make all matter of products to EXPRESS desirability of the product and to EVOKE emotion in the consumer, thus motivating him (her) to buy.

In the post-war period, a huge portion of the so-called commercial art has been sponsored by the automotive industry.

A telling first example of this is color. Henry Ford said his customers could have cars any color they wanted as long as it was black. This worked okay as long as the Ford car was markedly superior to its competition. But the competition caught up, and the famous new General Motors President, Big Bill Knudsen first began offering his new Chevy’s in a color called “Cream,” then later a whole spread of colors, some with handsome pin-striping. Ford never caught up.

Up until about 1950, automotive companies pitched products based on mechanical innovation. V8 engines, overhead valves fluid brakes, Hydramatic transmissions.

In the last 50 years, however, most brands have most of those innovative features.  Antilock brakes, air bags, variable valve timing. Each of these, a vastly complex engineering miracle, is available on practically every brand the world over. And there’s another problem: with only a couple of exceptions, all cars now are completely reliable and capable of 200,000 miles or more if properly maintained.

So with mechanical innovations, comfort innovations, safety innovations and more, it becomes obvious that car companies have to find other ways of differentiating products and EVOKING EMOTION in the consumer.

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