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Pegaso, Z-102 (1958) poster
Pegaso, Z-102 (1958). © FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa, 2022

The end of the combustion engine has already been decided in many countries. The automotive industry is in a phase of profound transformation. The more the transition progresses, new value chains emerge and innovative technology changes not only the drive and control system but also the design, the clearer it becomes that the era of classic automotive design has come to an end. The Guggenheim Bilbao is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and the programme for the anniversary year includes the show “Motion! Cars, Art, Architecture”. Curated by Lord Norman Foster and designed by the Norman Foster Foundation, the show does not only want to pay homage to the beauty of classic car body design, it rather wants to connect the technical and artistic dimensions of the automobile with the parallel worlds of painting, sculpture, architecture, photography and film.

The use of the wind tunnel, for example, shows how technology and design work together. This has not only contributed to the aerodynamic design of vehicles, but also to being able to drive faster with less energy consumption. Furthermore, aerodynamics has also changed industrial design and the design of everything from household appliances to locomotives. The exhibition brings together some forty automobiles that are among the best of their kind in terms of beauty, rarity, technical progress, and vision of the future, framed by significant works of art and architecture. After all, no other invention has individualised mobility and shaped modern lifestyles as much, no other has changed the appearance and organisation of cities, the shape and function of the landscape as fundamentally as the car.

Among the automobiles that are directly related to architecture is Buckminster Fuller’s “Dymaxion Car”; Foster had his teacher’s design from 1933 reproduced in 2010. Also on display is the “Voisin C7 Lumineuse” from 1925, a vehicle that Le Corbusier not only owned but also had photographed in front of his houses, especially since the company financed his famous “Plan Voisin”. As we stand on the threshold of a new revolution in electrical energy, the exhibition could also be seen, says Lord Foster, “as a requiem for the last days of combustion”. The lavishly illustrated catalogue also contains 38 short essays by experts on the themes and content of the exhibition.

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