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Sensuous Steel. Art Deco Automobiles at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts Opens June 14, 2013

NASHVILLE, TENN. – This summer, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts will present Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, an exhibition of unique and luxurious autos from the 1930s and ’40s. Sensuous Steel includes 18 automobiles and two motorcycles drawn from some of the most renowned car collectors and collections in the world. Organized by Guest Curator Ken Gross, former director of Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, the exhibition will be on view from June 14 through September 15, 2013.

Delahaye 135MS Roadster
Delahaye 135MS Roadster, 1937. Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research @ the Collier Collection. Photograph © 2012 Peter Harholdt

“Sensuous Steel is the first major museum exhibition devoted entirely to Art Deco automobiles, and the Frist Center’s landmark Art Deco building, which was completed in 1934, is the perfect venue to showcase these exquisite works of art and enrich the experience for our visitors,” notes Frist Center Executive Director Dr. Susan H. Edwards.

“The works in this exhibition convey the breadth, diversity, and stunning artistry of cars designed in the Art Deco style.”

Highlights of the makes and models on view include:
1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet- Designed by Alan Leamy who is known for styling the famed Auburn Speedster, the Cord L-29 Cabriolet was the first U.S. front-drive luxury car. It was painted its notable burnt orange color by its former owner, Frank Lloyd Wright.

1937 Delahaye 135 MS Roadster by Figoni and Falaschi- Created for the 1937 Paris Auto Show, this car was called “a Paris gown on wheels.” The roadster features aluminum coachwork and a leather interior by Hermès. Most significant are four features that were patented by Figoni and Falaschi, which included a roll-down, disappearing windshield.

1934 Edsel Ford Model 40 Speedster- Designed by E.T. “Bob” Gregorie specifically for Edsel B. Ford, the speedster features a two-seater aluminum alloy body patterned after an Indy race car. It is the only one of its kind ever made.

1934 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan- Designed by Phillip Wright, the Arrow Sedan was originally built for the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition (1933-34). This car was the epitome of luxury with a price tag of $10,000 (roughly $170,000 today). Only five of these sedans were made, with three of them extant.

1935 Stout Scarab- Bill Stout, an aircraft engineer who developed the Ford Tri-Motor aircraft, began creating a radical sedan concept in the early 1930s. The end result, the Scarab, featured a roomy interior that boasted moveable seats and a small table. This unique auto anticipated the first minivan.

Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our website at