Automania explores the ways in which motor vehicles reshaped how people lived, worked, and enjoyed themselves over the course of the 20th century, and the continuing positive and negative imprint on the design and organization of today’s built environment. Published to accompany an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, the catalogue showcases ten cars in MoMA’s collection: a Jeep (designed 1952), a Citroën DS23 (1973), a Volkswagen Beetle (designed 1938), a Fiat Cinquecento City Car (launched 1957), a Pininfarina Cisitalia 202 GT Car (designed 1946), a Formula 1 Racing Car, (1990), a Porsche 911 coupé (1965), an Airstream Bambi Traveler (1960), E-type Roadster (1966), and a Smart Car (1998). Presented alongside the vehicles are car parts, architectural models, films, photographs, posters, paintings, and sculptures, including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1898 print L’Automobiliste, Lily Reich’s 1930s designs for a tubular-steel car seat, photographs of American car factories (c. 1930–32) by Margaret Bourke-White, Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times (1963) by Andy Warhol, and Jorge Rigamonti’s 1966–70 photocollage illustrating a dystopic view of environmental destruction in Venezuela.
Organized into six thematic chapters, Automania includes an introductory essay by curator Juliet Kinchin and examines the car as a modern industrial product, transportation innovator, and style icon, as well as the generator of fatalities, traffic-choked environments, and ecological disaster in the oil age. “Cars have reimagined mobility, connecting us across great distances at ever greater speed, but this increased freedom and economic empowerment have come at the expense of tremendous human suffering and environmental damage,” says Kinchin.