Examining the Architecture of the Art Deco Automobile

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By Heather Corcoran
The North Carolina Museum of Art celebrates the beauty of Art Deco automotive design.

Before there was Modern with a capital M, there was Art Deco, a movement in art and design marked by sinuous curves and ornate geometric designs. Now the North Carolina Museum of Art is looking at this early modern style with the exhibition Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars From the 1930s and '40s.

1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, Courtesy of the RPW Collection, Denver, Coloro 

1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, Courtesy of the RPW Collection, Denver, Coloro 

The exhibition, which runs from October 1, 2016 through January 15, 2017, examines this glamorous period in industrial design through the cars of the era. The designs include sleek new forms influenced by the then-novel field of airplane design. 

1930 Henderson KJ Streamline, Collection of Frank Westfall, Ner-A-Car Museum, Syracuse, New York

1930 Henderson KJ Streamline, Collection of Frank Westfall, Ner-A-Car Museum, Syracuse, New York

The exhibition includes fourteen cars and three motorcycles dating from 1930 to 1941, the decade that brought such architectural icons as the Chrysler Building (1930) and Rockefeller Center (1933).

1935 Bugatti Aérolithe, Collection of Chris Ohrstrom

1935 Bugatti Aérolithe, Collection of Chris Ohrstrom

The North Carolina Museum of Art is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road Raleigh, North Carolina.

1936 Stout Scarab, Collection of Ron Schneider

1936 Stout Scarab, Collection of Ron Schneider


1936 Voisin C28 Clairière, Collection of Peter and Merle Mullin

1936 Voisin C28 Clairière, Collection of Peter and Merle Mullin


1940 Tatra T87, Collection of Chris Ohrstrom

1940 Tatra T87, Collection of Chris Ohrstrom


1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop, Collection of J. W. Marriott, Jr.;

1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop, Collection of J. W. Marriott, Jr.;


1934 BMW R7 Concept Motorcycle, BMW Classic Collection

1934 BMW R7 Concept Motorcycle, BMW Classic Collection

1930 Ruxton Model C Sedan, The Richard H. Driehaus Collection at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage

1930 Ruxton Model C Sedan, The Richard H. Driehaus Collection at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage


1936 Peugeot 402 Darl’mat Coupe, Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection

1936 Peugeot 402 Darl’mat Coupe, Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection


1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106, Collection of Bob, Sandy, and Gary Bahre

1934 Packard Twelve Model 1106, Collection of Bob, Sandy, and Gary Bahre


1941 Indian Model 441, Collection of Duane Vanfleet

1941 Indian Model 441, Collection of Duane Vanfleet


1934 Edsel Ford’s Model 40 Speedster, Courtesy of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

1934 Edsel Ford’s Model 40 Speedster, Courtesy of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House


1935 Chrysler Imperial Model C-2 Airflow, Collection of John and Lynn Heimerl, Suffolk, Virginia.

1935 Chrysler Imperial Model C-2 Airflow, Collection of John and Lynn Heimerl, Suffolk, Virginia.