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Andy Warhol's "Cars" Series Exhibit Opens At The Pete

image of the Andy Warhol exhibit in the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery at The Petersen Automotive Museum

A pop icon’s final commission.

The unfinished "Cars"-series by Any Warhol is on display at The Petersen, doors open on July 23rd.

By Glenn Oyoung

Fri, Jul 22, 2022 09:02 PM PST

Featured Image copyright: Petersen Automotive Museum.

Andy Warhol, who some would consider the leading figure of the pop art movement, is most famous for his ingenious use of silk screening and his iconic Campbell Soup and Marilyn Diptych (Marilyn Monroe) paintings. However, Warhol’s attention didn’t solely focus on household staples or celebrities. His painting of a Mercedes-Benz 300SL caught the attention of the iconic German automaker. In 1986 Mercedes commissioned Warhol to paint 80 pieces of art using 20 models to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary.

This would end up being the pop icon’s final commission. He unexpectedly passed away during a routine surgery in 1987, leaving behind the unfinished "Cars"-series. Warhol completed 49 works - 36 screen-prints on canvas and 13 sketches.

image of the 1970 Mercedes-Benz Type C 111-II Experimental Vehicle on display at the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Petersen
1970 Mercedes-Benz Type C 111-II Experimental Vehicle (copyright: Petersen Automotive Museum)

For the first time in over 30 years, "Cars" will be on display in North America at the Petersen Automotive Museums’ Armand Hammer Foundation gallery starting July 23rd. Forty artwork pieces from the series on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection will be on display alongside five of the eight historic vehicles depicted.

Some of the priceless vehicles on display include:

A 1937 W 125, on loan from the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, was initially built for Grand Prix racing and features a supercharged eight-cylinder engine producing 637 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful road-racing cars for three decades.

image of the 1937 Mercedes-Benz W 125 Grand Prix Car on display at the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles
1937 Mercedes-Benz W 125 Grand Prix Car (copyright: Petersen Automotive Museum)

Also making its way from the German museum is the unique 1970 C 111-II. The experimental Mercedes-Benz used a highly-aerodynamic fiberglass body and tri-rotor Wankel engine (later replaced with a turbo-charged diesel) to reach speeds of 200 mph.

On loan from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum is a 1954 W 196. A Formula One car piloted by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, the W 196 model won two world championships before Mercedes pulled out of competitive racing for three decades.

Next door to the exhibit, Warhol’s personal 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is also on display. After achieving commercial success, Warhol bought the Rolls and kept it for the rest of his life. In a boss move only he could pull off, he never got a driver’s license and relied on famous friends like Mick Jagger (what!?!), Imelda Marcos (yes, the one with all the shoes), and Liza Minnelli (again, what!?!) to chauffer him around.

To purchase tickets or for more information about the Petersen Automotive Museum, please visit Petersen.org

About The Author

Glenn Oyoung's profile picture

Glenn Oyoung

Glenn Oyoung is a marketer based in Los Angeles. Glenn’s lifelong passion for cars is rooted in playing with Hot Wheels, and has continued into 1:1 scale. He’s the former marketing director of American Racing, author of ‘vehicular alphabet books’ “C is for Car” and "P is for Petersen" in collaboration with the Petersen Automotive Museum. His passion for cars extends to his role as the founder of the monthly car meet Carcadia at Route 66, the most diverse car meet in the San Gabriel Valley.

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