Andy Warhol was a certified genius who defined popular art in wild, broad-brushing of electrifying colors on somewhat plebian topics, most of the time. We’re all familiar with his treatment of Marilyn Monroe’s visage – it sold at auction for 195 million bucks – and a lowly can of Campbell’s tomato soup. Back in the 1980s, Mercedes-Benz commissioned Warhol to help mark its 100th anniversary by creating more than 80 pieces of art on individual models from the past, most of them as historic as Warhol’s body of work. For the first time in some 30 years, they’re coming back stateside.
Warhol’s wild interpretation of a Mercedes-Benz W125 supercharged Grand Prix car from 1937, one of the all-conquering Silver Arrows, is one of the works that will be on display when “Andy Warhol: Cars from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection” begins July 23 at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Five of the eight Mercedes-Benz vehicles that were stunningly painted as part of Warhol’s final commission will be shown to the public at the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery on the museum’s first floor. But wait: Also on display will be Warhol’s personal 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, which he bought new and kept for the rest of his life despite having never received a driver’s license. Undeterred, the pop legend relaxed in the Roller’s rear seat and let his fellow worthies, including Mick Jagger and Imelda Marcos, be pressed into service as chauffeurs.