The Mercedes-Benz W196 is an icon in the Motorcars History; it was the Mercedes-Benz Formula One entry in the 1954 and 1955 Formula One seasons, winning 9 of 12 races entered in the hands of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Pictured by Andy Warhol, it becomes a symbol of post-war prosperity, industrial challenge, and America’s fascination with the packaged image of the sleek. Repeated twelve times, the loaded symbol of the car is at once exacerbated and deflated. Conversely there is a remarkably sensual and seductive quality in the way the cars are presented without shadows, as if they were floating, and in the iridescent colors. This repetition process lies at the heart of many of Warhol’s seminal works, such as the Brillo Boxes, Campbell’s Soup Cans or the Marilyn portraits. Warhol indulges in the American fascination with objects, status, beauty, and fame, reveling in the lack of consciousness precipitated by obsessive material desire.
“Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Grand Prix Car (Streamlined version, 1954), executed in 1986, was one of Warhol last work before his sudden death.” While cars emerged sporadically in the works of Italian Futurists, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the automobile became a motif in its own right, and artists like Warhol and Tom Wesselmann were on the forefront of that movement. The works in the Daimler series were all based on Daimler photographs. The Daimler Warhols were shown at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1988 and then in 2010 at the Albertina Museum in Vienna in the exhibition “Andy Warhol. Cars”. The commission given to Andy Warhol was a landmark for the Daimler Company’s future intensive cooperation with contemporary artists as well as its collection’s early international orientation. Artists Robert Longo, Sylvie Fleury, and Vincent Szarek were commissioned to create further works.

Excerpted from here.

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