Museum of Modern Art. Aug. 2021. 112p. ISBN 9781633451278. $29.95. DEC ARTS
No product has affected American life and culture as profoundly as the automobile. Mass production, city planning, art and advertising, building design, fashion, leisure, and the environment, to name a few, have all been altered by the invention. Museum of Modern Art curator emerita Kinchin’s engaging text touches on these topics while offering a brief history of car design from the late 1890s to the advent of the fuel-efficient smart car. The book documents the efforts to produce vehicles for the “masses’’—from Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T to the 1938 German Volkswagen sedan to the 1957 Fiat 500 (which helped recharge Italy’s post–World War II economy)—as well as sleek modernist mid-century models that combined aerodynamic principles with seductive design (Citroën, Porsche, etc.). Each chapter ends with a brief history and stunning photos of two iconic cars. Throughout, there are related archival images, advertisements, drawings, and reproductions of paintings in MoMA’s collection.
VERDICT A perfect balance of text and illustration on a subject and symbol that continues to fuel the American imagination.
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