Andy Warhol’s Final Commission, “Cars,” To Go On Display Next To The Vehicles That Inspired The Artworks


The Petersen Museum announced that “Andy Warhol: Cars – Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection” will go on display in North America for the first time in more than 30 years.

The “Cars” series was originally commissioned by Mercedes-Benz in 1986 to celebrate its 100th anniversary after it saw the silkscreens of the 300 SL Coupe that Warhol printed on his own.

The series was supposed to be comprised of 80 pieces featuring 20 different Mercedes models spanning its 100-year history. Unfortunately, only 49 works (36 screen prints on canvas and 13 drawings) were completed before Warhol passed away unexpectedly in 1987.

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© Mercedes Benz AG
© 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The series will be on display in the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery on the museum’s first floor and will be joined by five of the eight vehicles that Warhol ultimately depicted. Among them are a 1937 W 125 on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany that was originally built for Grand Prix racing. It features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that produces 637 hp (475 kW/646 PS).

It will be joined by the 1970 C 111-II, also on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The experimental car used an extremely aerodynamic body and a tri-rotor Wankel engine (which was later swapped out for a turbodiesel) to achieve speeds of 200 mph (322 km/h).

Not all of the cars will be on loan from Mercedes, though. A 1954 W 196 will be borrowed from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The Formula 1 car was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss and won two world championships.

Joining the Mercedes vehicles will be Andy Warhol’s personal 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. Despite buying the car new and owning it until his death, Warhol never had a driver’s license and depended on friends like Mick Jagger and Liza Minnelli to drive him around instead.

“Andy Warhol was an iconic and influential figure that pioneered Pop art and culture,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “Not many have seen his automotive works, so we are excited to display them to the public alongside the unique vehicles that inspired his creative visions. It is an exclusive exhibit that appeals to both admirers of fine art and amazing automobiles.”

The exhibition will be on display starting on July 23.

© Mercedes Benz AG

Lead image credit: © 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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