In 1986, Mercedes-Benz, in anticipation of their 100th year anniversary, tapped Andy Warhol to create art inspired by their vehicles in what would be his final commission before his unexpected passing. The Pop Art icon planned to create 80 works depicting cars that spanned the German automaker’s history, but he was only able to make 49. Now, for the first time in over 30 years, 40 of the original artworks will be on display at LA’s Petersen Automotive Museum in a new exhibit entitled Andy Warhol: Cars—Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection.
On view now through 22 January 2023, the exhibit is a thrilling and rare marriage of not only art and automobiles but also paintings and their inspiration. Surrounded by Warhol’s vibrant 36 screen prints on canvas and 13 drawings, five experimental and iconic cars from the automaker’s legacy suffuse the show. This includes a 1937 W 125 whose eight-cylinder and 637-horsepower engine made it one of the most powerful road racing cars throughout its three decades. Also featured is the unique 1970 C 111-II, an experimental car that uses its highly-aerodynamic fiberglass body and tri-rotor Wankel engine to produce speeds of 200mph. The Formula One 1954 W 196 that was piloted by Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, the W 196 model that won two world championships and the car Warhol himself owned (but never drove because he did not have a license), a 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, complete the intersectional exhibit.
Images courtesy of Petersen Automotive Museum