The Porsche Art Book
“So why cars as art, and why the 911? Since the late 20th century, beautiful and technically exquisite vehicles have increasingly taken up the role of “better”, more up-to-date sculptures—and collectors are obviously convinced. Think of Bugatti in the 1930s, think of Ferrari—and not just in the 1960s. We’re talking about icons.
The Porsche 911 has endured for more than 50 years and has emerged as a miracle of design an technology. Not playful, not baroque, not showy, and not Swabian. It’s solid yet not stale. The true meaning of the label ‘art’ in this day and age is highest praise. The 911 deserves this accolade.”
(German, English) If you like fine art, and fine book design this is a book you’ll want to know about. If you like Porsches, all the better but the artists featured here do all sorts of other things, and while the common denominator for inclusion on this book is in fact their Porsche oeuvre, this look into their lives and studios covers a whole lot more.
If you just don’t see the 911 as a design—and thereby cultural—icon (although the book looks at other models too), and if the introductory quote simply doesn’t do anything for you then this book may seem like an exercise in vanity to you. For sure, it is one of those books that is impossible to review in a conventional frame of reference so we can really only “introduce” its concept and contents.
Readers familiar with the marque and the literature that surrounds it will of course immediately recall the illustrative work of Erich Strenger (1922–1993; this publisher has a dedicated book about just his Porsche opus), the freelance graphic designer with whom Porsche collaborated for 37 years, starting in 1951, on sales materials, owner’s manuals, and race posters. His distinctive work, as recognizable today as it was then, helped shape the image of the marque. It is of course included in this book.
From hyperrealism to cartoon to abstract, the book’s “journey through time” looks over the shoulders and into the minds of 19 other artists. All living, all European, and two of them female. Painter Uli Hack served as curator, and five contributors shared writing duties on the bios/interviews/features.
To each artist are devoted a page of text in each language, first in German then in English, and several pages of illustrations (properly captioned with title, date, medium, size) showing finished work as well as the artists in their studios (and not even in all cases with Porsche work!). Photos are in some cases by the artists themselves or by other photographers.
The book is large—11.8 x 14.2 inches and boldly designed. One hair in the ointment is the microscopically small type size of the main text, but that didn’t keep the book from winning silver at the 2019 peer-judged “Best of Content Marketing” awards. It is available in a standard version called the “Christophorus Edition” and a limited edition of 100 that includes a signed art print by Hack. Select artwork from the book is available from the publisher, in different formats and even framed.
Even if you set aside the whole “car as art” question, the book has plenty to entertain and delight. If it does strike a chord, know that Porsche AG itself commissioned in 2018 a coffee table book (992 Artbook) with large-format images and elaborate photographs by photographers Irene Kung (Swiss) and Anton Corbijn (Dutch) as part of the launch campaign for the eighth generation of the Porsche 911.
Copyright 2019, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).