“Future Retro: Drawings from the Great Age of American Automobiles” showcases the beauty and ingenuity of American automotive design during the decades following World War II, a landmark period in car styling. Drawn entirely from the collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf, this installation of approximately thirty objects includes twenty-eight drawings from the 1940s through the ’60s, as well as two painted wood car models from the 1950s.
This installation provides visitors with a rare glimpse into the creative process behind the scenes at some of Detroit’s premiere car companies through an eclectic mix of illustrations, ranging from preliminary sketches to fully rendered works intended for presentation to company executives. Some of the drawings offer concepts that would later be incorporated into specific models, while others represent futuristic ideas that never made it past the drawing board. Dating from an era when design and appearance were increasingly important factors in automotive sales, there are ample references to the shapes of airplanes and rockets, along with other emerging technologies that influenced postwar car design.
Patrons of the Museum for a number of years, Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf are both collectors and scholars with a broad range of interests such as Japanese prints and photographs, American art including sculpture, architectural drawings, and American automobile design drawings.
“Future Retro” has been organized as a complementary installation to “Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection,” on view in the Gund Gallery through July 3, 2005.