Andy Warhol’s Weird Fascination With Cars

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Andy Warhol never learned to drive, but that didn’t stop him from having a lifelong fascination with cars. The “Pope of Pop” drew his first automotive vehicle — his brother’s produce delivery truck surrounded vivacious gals — when he was just 18 years old. His next attraction to automobiles came in the 1950s, while he was making his living as a high-rolling advertisement and editorial illustrator. Turning his commercial success into an artistic career, Warhol went on to incorporate such celebrities and public figures as Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, and Jacqueline Kennedy in his paintings and prints; but he never lost his interest in cars — making giant canvases of cars crashes in the ’60s, prints of Volkswagens and trucks in the ’80s, and even hand-painting an actual BMW race car in 1979 for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. The traveling show Warhol and Cars: American Icons is currently on view at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Click through a selection of our favorite images that document the famed artist’s strange obsession.

Andy Warhol (1928-87), Twelve Cadillacs, 1962, Silkscreen ink on canvas, 46 x 42 in. (116.8 x 106.7 cm), Montclair Art Museum purchase; prior bequest of James Turner and Acquisition Fund 1998.9, © 2011 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Andy Warhol, Female Fashion Figure (with 1959 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible), 1950s. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. © AWF

Andy Warhol, European License Plate, 1976-1986, 1986, Gelatin silver prints sewn with thread. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. © AWF

Andy Warhol, Car, 1950s, Ink and Dr. Martin’s Analine dye on Strathmore paper. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. ©AWF

Photograph of Andy Warhol paintings at 1342 Lexington Avenue reproduced in a Harper’s Bazaar article in November 1962

Andy Warhol, Truck, 1985, Screenprint on Lenox Museum Board. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. © AWF

Andy Warhol, Seven Cadillacs, 1962, Silkscreen ink on canvas. Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA. © AWF

Andy Warhol painting a BMW art car in 1979.

Andy Warhol BMW art car competing at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979.

Using Warhol’s 1962 silkscreen ink on canvas painting Twelve Cadillacs from its collection as the point of departure, the Montclair Art Museum organized the exhibition Warhol and Cars: American Icons, which originated at the New Jersey museum in 2011. The show is currently on view at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA and then travels to the Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham, AL and the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.