Review: Motion – Autos, Art, Architecture

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Curated by architect Norman Foster, Motion: Autos, Art, Architecture at the Guggenheim Bilbao is a visually stunning tribute to the golden age of the automobile

The car, once a great liberating force that transformed the lives of millions, is today a pariah. Like the post-war generation that embraced it, it is now seen as a roadblock to progress on climate change. The car is the great polluter – the liberator turned oppressor. It wasn’t always thus. At the turn of the century the it was a cleansing force that purged city streets of pungent detritus that went with the era of the horse. The car’s fall from grace, however, is far from as emphatic as its rise. Though cities across the developed world would prefer to see cars driven out of the urban realm and are concocting policies intended to do just that, for millions life without one would be impossible.

And so Motion: Autos, Art, Architecture held within the rippling steel form of the Guggenheim Bilbao is both completely of its moment and one that flies against the prevailing winds. The story of the car is the story of the 20th century – curator Norman Foster, at 86 the UK’s greatest living architect, described the show as a requiem to the age of combustion. And though there are some truly jaw-dropping machines on display, what elevates the exhibition is the attempts to join the car, on the evidence presented here the pinnacle of industrial design, to the art and architecture it inspired and took inspiration from. 

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