Car fascination ‘drives’ new Warhol exhibition

The Montclair Art Museum’s exhibition “Warhol and Cars: American Icons” is not only easily accessible and very enlightening, but it provides a close look at Warhol and his relationship with motor vehicles. Although photography is unfortunately forbidden, the presentation of Warhol’s work is so enthralling as to be unforgettable.

Upon approaching the gallery, museum goers are presented with different informational materials on Warhol’s life and career. From statements from the artist himself to tales about his life as an artist, the information posted provides viewers with a lens to look through in order to more closely examine his work, making it highly accessible to those unfamiliar with his car paintings.

Juniors Kirsten Keane and Katie LiGreci visited the Montclair Art Museum solely to see the exhibit. “I was surprised to see that Andy Warhol did so many paintings of cars because I’m more familiar with his celebrity portraits,” LiGreci said. Although others too may be surprised that the exhibit is made up entirely of depictions of cars, the exhibit does not disappoint.

Those seeking a better understanding of Warhol’s life and personality will be pleasantly surprised by the different displays, which include a short film titled “Ein Warhol”. The film not only offers viewers a look at Warhol’s technique, but it also reveals the artist’s playful personality. In the video, Warhol lovingly slaps brightly colored paint onto a race car and jokingly paints the glove of an assistant as he passes a can of paint. By the time he has finished the job, the car is adorned with a rainbow of colors.

As many know, Warhol was fond of bright colors; in a pair of paintings made for children, a police car shown in sharp detail and bright colors is especially enticing with its playful appeal. In examining the other works of the exhibit, it becomes apparent that Warhol really appreciates the playfulness of art and makes a serious attempt at zapping negativity from his subject matter.

While Warhol originally treats cars as he does celebrity portraits—with reverence, in his joking way—he later begins to show cars in accidents, flipped onto their backs, with people crushed beneath them. Take, for example, his painting “5 Die.” Three people are shown bloody, bruised and pinned beneath an overturned vehicle, and a little bit of back story tells viewers that two people actually died in the accident.

His use of bright colors and repetition, both with their desensitizing natures, help to exaggerate the scene—a technique that Warhol uses frequently in order to drain the shock and horror from his bloodier depictions. Warhol succeeds in his distraction and lures viewers away from the emotional disturbance inspired by the images in order to focus attention on the power and danger of driving a motor vehicle.

While some images are very shocking and upsetting, the way in which Warhol handles the subject matter provides viewers with a wealth of information on who Warhol is, both as a person and as an artist. Overall, The Montclair Art Museum does a wonderful job of showing viewers who Andy Warhol really is through his relationship with motor vehicles. The exhibit is ultimately successful and is one not to be missed.

Andrea Aguirre can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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