Thursday, November 12, 2009

If you were driving the beautiful Texas Hill Country Roads this past week, chances are you spotted a procession of vintage car enthusiasts touring our great state. The 12th annual Texas 1000 is an amazing opportunity for car connoisseurs from all over the world to get together and drive 1000 miles throughout the state. This year drivers came from places like New Hampshire, Indiana, New Orleans, even Italy and England. Each day the enthusiasts cover about 250 miles, driving the finest Grand Touring roads in the world, our Hill Country.

It was remarkable sitting at the end of the road hearing the thunderous motors heading up toward Jacques Vaucher’s l’art et l’automobile Gallery Tuesday afternoon. The automobiles were spectacular, and included cars like the Jaguar C type, Ferrari 330 GTC, Shelby 350 GT, The brand new Porsche Panamera.

As the drivers made their way into Jacques’ Gallery, they were able to look around at the breathtaking collection of vintage automobile memorabilia that he collects and sells. Jacques Vaucher, owner of l’art et l’automobile opened his first Automotive Art Gallery in 1975 in New York City. He has become known for decorating garages, homes, offices & museums of automotive enthusiasts around the globe. After opening 3 additional galleries in Manhattan, and one in East Hampton, NY, he expanded by organizing four online catalog Auctions a year. The big Texas sky, and stunning roadways that the Texas 1000 drivers are enjoying this week, are what appealed to the former race car driver Jacques, who in 2006 moved his home and his business to the 80 acre Ranch that hosted our travelers Tuesday. The participants were treated to 4000 square feet of pure paradise for automobile enthusiasts. There are thousands of memorabilia, a library section, a lounge area, a poster gallery, display for original sculpture, showcases full of models, mascots, badges, coach plaques and historic trophies. The walls are decorated with original paintings from some of the best automotive artists around the world. It is truly extraordinary, and everything is for sale. Although the Gallery is open by appointment, and also hosts a variety of luncheons and car clubs regularly; the main business is conducted through an impressive web store and auction house, For the drivers of the Texas 1000, this was a marriage made in heaven. A delectable luncheon was catered by Karen Vaucher, and one could tell immediately that the travelers were right at home. They browsed, shopped, and enjoyed a beautiful spread of food, then at 12:30 the bunch was treated to a very special aerobatics show put on by John Dormer and his team from Kerrville, flying their vintage airplanes. The day was phenomenal. After lunch the Texas 1000 would take them for what they called “navigator’s revenge”, in Fredericksburg. Shopping at all of the local stores would prove to be a great treat for the travelers. That evening they would visit the LBJ Ranch, and Horseshoe Bay Resort, for dinner, and a night of rest and relaxation.

The rest of their journey was filled with spectacular driving roads that snake for miles, entertaining dinners, and stunning views along the way. Their other stops were to include a pilgrimage to Luckenbach, the Trois Estate, Medina Lake, and some impressive museums. They wrapped up their trip Friday in San Antonio, with fond thoughts, and a lot of souvenirs. We are sure that our visitors took pleasure in all of the collected works, museums, local flavor, and sweet country roads. It’s certain they made new friends, great memories, and thoroughly enjoyed their visit to our great state.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Recognition of the Hot Rod in Automotive Art

Yes, the inevitable is happening.

Once upon a time, only a few years ago, if you went to an art exhibition like the Saturday night AFAS show preceding the Pebble Beach Concours, all you saw depicted was classic cars, mostly prewar cars like Duesenbergs, Bentleys, etc.
Then depictions of muscle cars started creeping in, on cat’s feet so to speak, but this was inevitable because some of the greatest car artists of our time are former ad illustrators like Art Fitzpatrick who painted the immortal Pontiac Grand Prix and GTO illustrations. At age 20, he was already working with Howard "Dutch" Darrin, designing the 1940 Packard four-door.
Tom Fritz , of Ventura, CA, was one of the first American fine artists to "break the mold" and depict the cars he grew up with;not LeTourneau et Marchand Bugattis but good ol' hot rods he saw on the streets of San Fernando, an LA suburb. Tom's vivid childhood recollections of the motorcycle and automotive cultures prevalent in Southern California during the 60's and 70's are reflected in his work.Among his clients are Harley Davidson and his paintings hang in many corporate collections and museums including the NHRA Museum.
And then, just like out on the lawn of Pebble Beach, hot rods appeared. Oh, the painters, many of them, were familiar with hot rods, heck many either owned or lusted after the ’32 Ford “Deuce” roadster in their youth but never wanted to admit it in polite company at events like Pebble Beach where the talk was all of Hispano-Suizas, Erdmann and Rossi 540Ks, James Young Phantoms and the like.
But now the secret is out. We all be hot rodders. Because fundamentally a car is a car and if it’s mechanical we love it.
The depictions of hot rodding that have appeared in fine art so far are steeped in history—say paintings of hot rods being run at the dry lake beds where hot rodders raced them even before WWII. More modern setting depictions are rarer though recently there has been a blossoming of "cruise-ins", impromptu car shows, at places like drive-in restaurants nationwide.
And then there’s the problem of the commercial cliché—if you show a hot rod in a drive-in restaurant (like the kind where the waitresses rolled out on roller skates to take your order) then you risk painting something that commercial retro-theme restaurants are still currently exploiting.
And once you've opened Pandora's box, how far do you go, because there’s a deep dark secret about hot rods. Now neat and clean hot rods are one thing, but deep down if you research the genre, you find out there’s another vein of hot rodding called the “rat rodding.” Because back in the day hot rodders had enough money to buy Smitty mufflers or Rajo axles but didn’t have enough money to paint the car so they ran them in flat primer. There’s a whole subtext/genre of hot rodders who have no intention of ever finishing their cars to normal “finished car” standards. To them, it is an outlaw statement on four wheels to leave it unfinished.
Call it being “in your face.”
One of the first books to show this side of the car world was the artful softbound Hot Rod by Barry Gifford with David Perry taking the pictures of rough cars built by some rough looking (“wife beater” t-shirts and lots of tattoos) dudes. Perry also wrote the movie Wild at Heart. This book captures the era when driving a hot rod made you a “bad dude” --almost as bad as riding a Harley.
There was a real life example of hot rod meets fine art that I saw a couple years ago at the AFAS tent at Pebble at their party. It was when Chip Foose, a young designer who has worked for the Detroit automakers but who now is famous for his hot rod designs, droe up to their tent in a Ford roadster –the car full of aeroplane parts like exhausts from a WWII fighter!
The artists poured of the tent to see his hot rod and there was plenty of admiration expressed—indicating that, deep down in many an American-born artist famous for depicting classic cars is a hot rodder who knew the names Bill Cushenberry, Dean Jeffries and Gene Winfield long before he ever heard of Sergio Pininfarina or Giorgetto GIugiaro….

by Wallace Alfred Wyss, who is a fine artist whose work is often found in the Marketplace category of our online store.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Razzia: Poster Artist Extraordinaire

Gerard Courbouleix Deneriaz, commonly known as Razzia, is the last graphic artist who can honestly be called a posterist. In this age of computer art, he is one of the world’s few modern day poster artists.

During the Golden Age before all the new computer technology, advertisers hired the best artists to make unique renderings of the things they wished to sell in order to stand out from their competitors with a strong image. Razzia’s posters embody perfect communication – elegantly modern and executed with uniquely surreal Art Deco brevity.

He began his career as a successful photographer hired to capture “rock & roll giants” like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd. But Razzia began to feel limited by the camera. Looking for an expression that gave him the opportunity to control every detail of composition, he devoted himself to graphic design. In most cases the artist would produce a painting, and when it was approved, would be lithographed with the appropriate text. Razzia still creates his posters from an original painting, a technique not very common in this age. With this new sense of purpose, the need for a new name arose.

Thus, Razzia was born. Over the past 25 years, he has conceived some of the most memorable images in order to grace the contemporary market place. Razzia lives and works in Paris, and has done numerous posters for Louis Vuitton world-wide, including the Parc de Bagatelle Concours d’Elegance and the America’s Cup Challenge. He has also done artwork for various restaurants in the United States and Europe, as well as the Cannes Film Festival, Monte Carlo Country Club, and many others.

We are proud to have been working with Razzia for the last 15 years, and you can see many of his images on our website, at Razzia has found his niche by creating compositions that blend perfectly with advertising posters.

Monday, February 2, 2009 Automobilia Blog

Spin-offs are a way of life. Throughout the 1950’s to the 1980’s, it wasn’t uncommon for one television show to "spin-off" another. Such is the way of life, especially when collecting vintage automobiles. One of the most popular spin-offs from this hobby is the wide-reaching area of automobilia, or the hobby of collecting items related to cars.

There are hundreds of sub-venues, including motorsports where one may fancy a particular driver, team leader, or a specific marque, with specialists cutting down to individual models. Other areas deal with literature which can range from sales brochures to operating manuals, or maybe the wonderful world of books.

For those who appreciate the fine arts, original paintings, prints, sculptures or even posters can not only decorate an office or garage, but also can appreciate in value if well maintained. For others, the most popular items fall under the category of objects which can include toy or model cars, in various sizes and in varying degrees of detailing, motor-club and event badges, or watches, pens, fobs, hood ornaments or other related items produced for promoting and advertising specific brands or models.

A leader in this industry for over 30 years, l’art et l’automobile Gallery is located on a ranch in the Hill Country of Texas near the community of Harper. Founded by Jacques Vaucher, an admitted incurable collector, this little oasis of automobilia has become famous around the world for the incredible selection of items that have been offered to customers in direct sales or through a series of auctions where just about anything can be found.

A new facet to l’art et l’automobile has been added with what is believed to be the first blog-site dedicated to collectors, and to take part in this forum is done at no cost to those taking part. Launched in January 2009, you never know what you will be reading about as contributors have ranged from artists to collectors to other dealers.

"We thought it would be a good way to bring people to our regular website," Vaucher said, "but what we are finding is that people who are collectors of specific items and hoping to maybe find their desired treasure or teach people about their interests have been flocking to our blog."

While the gallery is open by appointment, it is still conducting daily sales through its website and with it semi-annual major catalog auctions plus a number of mini-on-line auctions, the blog is becoming a major part of the company. They are also displaying their collectibles at Vintage Car Auctions, historic races, and Concours d'elegance.

"I see what people are talking about," Vaucher said, "and it gives me an appreciation of what they likes plus lets me know what to keep my eyes open for so we can offer the best to those who come to l’art et l'automobile on a regular basis."

Vaucher invites all interested collectors to visit his blog, and if they wish to contribute, all that is required is to join up, a simple and plain on-line registration form, the cost of joining is free. Suggestions and articles are welcomed.