Piston Head: Venus Over Manhattan Brings Auto Art to Basel Week

Adam Lindemann's dream has finally come true. A longtime art and car collector, the New York-based gallery owner brings his two loves to Miami Beach in the upcoming exhibition "PISTON HEAD: Artists Engage the Automobile."

"I've always been fascinated when artists deal with cars because it's something near and dear to my heart," Lindemann told New Times. "I was trying to think of what I could contribute that was different than what anyone else has done or what anyone else would bring. Something for car culture, something for art culture...something for everyone."

Gallery platform Venus Over Manhattan's exhibition displays automobiles transformed into sculptures by leading modern and contemporary artists in the years since 1970. Featuring the work of 15 artists, creations on view will reflect art's enduring connection with the car as a cultural icon and its symbolism in our lives.

"There's a lot of people who can relate to cars and car culture; it's a very American thing, starting with Henry Ford," Lindemann said. "The 20th Century's all about mass production of the car, the highway, and the road; quintessentially American things. With "Artists Engage the Automobile," they're reinterpreting or commenting on American culture and how we live, especially in a city like Miami where people spend so much time in their cars."

The exhibition includes works by Ron Arad, Bruce High Quality Foundation, César, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Virginia Overton, Olivier Mosset/Jacob Kassay/Servane Mary, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Salvatore Scarpitta, Kenny Scharf, and Franz West. Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Callaghan will create a new work - a signature "rubbing" of Ferrari's LaFerrari hybrid supercar, which was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show and will be on display with "PISTON HEAD."

"We have a real intersection of art and love of the automobile, and we also have a range of historic artists, famous artists, and emerging artists," Lindemann said. "So there's really a broad range of different types of cars in the show. Some of the cars work and are fully-functioning automobiles; others roll but are really just sculptures, and others were once cars but are now something else."

Opening December 4, the exhibition will be presented on the top level of 1111 Lincoln Road, the open-air parking structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. None of the cars in the exhibition were commercial commissions, Lindemann says. All pieces had to be completely artist-created and had to represent a full car.

"There are no car parts, no pictures of cars, no car movies, no paintings of cars," Lindemann said. "For instance, with César's car compression, it's an entire car crushed into a rectangle that's 4-feet high and 2-feet wide... Each one is a real sculpture, whether they roll or have a motor or don't."

Each artist approached the automobiles differently. Richard Prince's American muscle cars are monochromatic, neutral compositions, while Virginia Overton's Dodge Ram is transformed by a mountain of sand that hides most of the vehicle's defining details. British painter Damien Hirst covered a Spot Mini in his signature colorful spots and Dan Colen and Nate Lowman's collaborative 2008 work is a decrepit four-door sedan, filled with TV sets.

Lindemann believes using the car as a platform for artistic expression will expose art to a broader audience and offer an accessibility uncommon in many Art Basel fairs.

"This show is very accessible. It's a show that could appeal to the most sophisticated art collector, to someone who knows nothing about art, but is interested in the car or what artists can do to a car or rethink what a car means in our culture."

"PISTON HEAD: Artists Engage the Automobile" will be open to the public from December 3 through December 8 at 1 to 8 p.m. daily or by appointment. Visit

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Shelly Davidov