Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Automobile and Contemporary Art -- the Work of Dustin Schuler

Death of an Era -- 1980

Dance -- 2008

Dance -- 2008

Berwyn, IL car Spindle -- 1989

1963 VW Pelt -- 1983

This second intense reaction to a shortage of oil and gasoline unleashed another wave of discontent related to the automobile and its place in American life. One amusing response was the work of California artist Dustin Shuler (1948-2010). On the night of October 23, 1980 at California State University Domingues Hills, a 1959 Cadillac was illuminated, elevated on four oil drums, and then pierced by a 20 foot “nail” that was dropped 100 feet from a boom crane.26 The Cadillac was then pulled on to its side and left on display in an exhibit entitled “Death of an Era.” Schuler saw this act as akin to a hunt for a wild animal, and later he took apart the Cadillac in a way that left it “skinned,” like an animal pelt. So encouraged by this first work, Schuler subsequently skinned and created pelts of a VW beetle, a Fiat Spider and a Porsche 356C! Schuler summarized his activities this way:
"All the cars I have skinned and, for that matter, all the cars on the road can be considered an endangered species. While I am not arguing for the preservation of this species, I notice the ‘evolution’ that is going on right before my eyes [new cars coming off the docks and old cars being scrapped] and I want to collect a few good specimens before they are gone."


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