When the Future Had Fins: Fantastical Vintage Auto Drawings

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By Erika Heet / Published by Dwell
Dwell on Design speaker and gallery director Christopher W. Mount opens a new L.A. exhibition of automotive drawings spanning 1959–1973.

Christopher Mount, the founder/director of the eponymously named gallery in Los Angeles, will open an exhibition on Friday, January 23, to include detailed drawings done for America’s "Big Three"—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—when the automobile was hitting its design stride, 1959–1973.

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John Perkins, Design for Cadillac, 1966.

"In the last two decades, the art of drawing by hand has all but disappeared in many of the design professions," says Mount. "Though computers and software have created a useful bridge between inspiration and production, in fields such as architecture, automotive design, industrial design and even typography fewer and fewer practitioners take hand to paper to sketch and resolve ideas. The advantages of a dependence on the digital can be argued vigorously pro and con, but what is disappearing is the wonderful, expressive form of the design sketch or study, often a work of art that not only contains the height of skill and craftsmanship formally but also combines this with a cultural and historical significance."

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John Samen, Design for a Plymouth Barracuda, 1964.

A former MoMA curator, Mount has also curated exhibitions as MOCA, LACMA, and directed the exhibitions program at Parsons. He’ll return to the Dwell on Design stage in May to discuss the effect of technology on a somewhat lost art—drawing.

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Robert Ackerman, Design for Chevrolet, 1965.

When the Future Had Fins: Automobile Design and Concepts, 1959–1973 runs through May 20.

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Ken Vendley, Design for Concept Car, 1959.

 

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Terry Brochstein, Design for Chevrolet Monte Carlo, c. 1970.

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Dave Cummings, Design for a Plymouth Valiant, 1963.

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Pete Wozena, Roofline study, c. 1955.