Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 12th October 2017

Image credit:

There’s always been a strong link between art and cars, going back to the earliest days of the automobile. As an art subject, a car can represent all kinds of emotions, such as love and anger. Professional artists have been fascinated with them for decades, and here are five artists who’ve incorporated cars into their work.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Famous post-Impressionist painter and lithographer Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec enjoyed capturing French urban scenery. He was characterised by a linear style and one of his most famous drawings was The Motorist. Drawn in 1896, it depicted a man driving an early version of a car. Toulouse-Lautrec was influenced by Edgar Degas and Edouard Manet, who also focused on drawing everyday life.

Giacomo Balla

Balla was a pioneer of the Futurist art movement, which depicted light, speed and motion. He featured many cars throughout his work in the 1920s and ‘30s. He believed the power and speed of cars were an indication of the future, so he transferred that idea into his art. In his 1913 painting Abstract Speed – The Car has Passed, Balla created the motion of a car through colour. Green and blue is used to represent the sky and pink is meant to show the exhaust fumes of a passing car.

Rembrandt Bugatti

Rembrandt was the younger brother of Bugatti founder, Ettore. He specialised in creating bronze animal sculptures and this was influenced by his love of nature. He spent a lot of time in the wildlife sanctuary near the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, or at Antwerp Zoo. Many of his sculptures were used with Bugatti cars, including the silver elephant mascot on the Bugatti Royale.

Sonia Delaunay

French artist Sonia Delaunay was known for her colourful art and this translated into her appreciation for cars. In 1925, she updated the body of an old Citroen B12. The vehicle featured a colourful, abstract paint job that stood out in an urban environment. The surrealism of the car was decades ahead of its time.

Erwin Wurm

Austrian artist Erwin Wurm made a name for himself with his one minute sculpture series. He’s also worked on a ‘Fat Car’ series, which depicted “puffy, obese life-size sculptures that bulge like overfilled sacks.” He’s used polyurethane foam and styrofoam covered with lacquer to achieve his look. Wurm’s art is meant to critique consumer culture and the Western desire for material objects.