HomeCar CultureWhat’s the car equivalent of ‘reverse’ art show?

What’s the car equivalent of ‘reverse’ art show?


There are many interesting parallels — and contrasts as well — between the worlds of collecting fine art and collecting fine automobiles, including the definition of the word “fine.” 

What’s “fine” in one person’s eyes may be found lacking in the eyes of another. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” after all.

Anyway, the news.artnet.com website offered a story this week about the 38 must-see museum art shows scheduled for this fall. For example, an Andy Warhol show at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; a show of art by women artists from the first half of the 20th century at the Spazio Mostre Fondazione Firenze in Florence, Italy; an exhibit of 150 of Alexander Calder’s works at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; and “Flip Sides,” at the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

“Flip Sides” is an art show of the backside of various canvases. 

The reverse of ‘Woman and Birds,’ by Richard Mortensen, is among the artwork included the ‘Flip Sides’ exhibit in Denmark | Artnet.com photo courtesy Statens Museums for Kunst

“Denmark’s National Gallery shines a spotlight on the backside of canvases for a special exhibition for Copenhagen’s annual Golden Days Festival,” the website reports. “The show is inspired by this year’s festival theme, ‘B-Sides of History,’ and features flipped-over paintings from the museum’s collection to reveal what lies beneath — sometimes an unfinished work, or evidence of its former owners, or earlier restorations.”

The Gilmore Car Museum in Michigan is among those that have staged “Hoods Up” weekends | Museum photo

I found the illustration — the reverse of a painting by Richard Mortensen — to be fascinating and that got me to thinking about what the automotive equivalent of this show might be.

A couple of possibilities came to mind: Several car museums already do “hoods up” shows to feature the engines that power the vehicles in their collections. But probably a more accurate equivalent would be to turn vehicles on their sides so visitors could see their underbellies — the frames, powertrains, suspension, exhaust systems, etc. 

Such displays have become popular with automakers who can afford to create a car-show exhibit that exposes the parts of a vehicle otherwise not seen unless the car is on a lift or rotisserie. 

To do such a thing with a true collector car not only might be prohibitively expensive but could cause damage. But maybe those with automotive art collections, whether museums or individuals, might want to take a look at the reverse side of that artwork to see what lies behind.

P.S. If you find yourself in Copenhagen, “Flip Sides” will be on display through March 10, 2019.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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