Tag Archives: 1950’s

Legendary Automobiles: The ‘Alpha Romeo B.A.T. Concept Cars’ Of 1953-55

Perhaps the most incredible thing that could be said about the B.A.T. series is that the fantastical design is actually functional, with all three examples exhibiting drag coefficient figures that would still land them in the top ten most aerodynamic cars on sale today. Their extreme forms are, in fact, functional.

Predictably, the B.A.T. concepts made a huge splash on the international motor show circuit, leading to Scaglione’s two greatest hits in terms of production figures – the NSU Sport Prinz and Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint. Unfortunately, the B.A.T. concepts would also mark an inflection point for Bertone and Scaglione’s working relationship.

Scaglione’s daughter Giovanna describes it, “Bertone was a little bothered when it happened that in a magazine article they wrote about Franco Scaglione and not Bertone… For example, in an article speaking of one of his works [Scaglione’s] name was mentioned three times and the name of Bertone was mentioned only once…” Though Giovanna does not attribute her father’s sudden departure from the firm to this incident alone, it was clear that Scaglione wanted to strike out on his own, so that year, he handed over the title of chief stylist to Giorgetto Giugiaro and left Bertone for good.

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Classics: The Golden Age Of 1950’s Italian Tiny Cars

You can’t measure style with a tape measure, and that applies to people and collector cars alike. A true automotive style icon will be celebrated at the next Aste Bolaffi auction on 16 October. Firstly, the catalogue contains numerous rare variations of small Italian cars.

There is a Fiat 600 Zagato Tipo L from 1956 finished in metallic red and cream two-tone paintwork, a contemporary luxury version of the otherwise modest city runabout. The Fiat Abarth 595 and the two Jolly versions of the Fiat 500 built by Carrozzeria Ghia are also desirable. 

It wasn’t only Fiat producing extremely charming microcars in the post-War period, however. The 49 lots in the auction also include a Bianchina Trasformabile, a Heinkel cabin scooter, a Gogomobil, a Mivalino, an Amica tricycle and a Ferves 50 Ranger, which can be considered the ancestor to the Fiat Panda 4×4 we so adore. You can find our favourites from the sale listed below or, alternatively, browse the entire catalogue in the Classic Driver Market

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Great Books Podcast: ‘The Old Man And The Sea’ By Ernest Hemingway (1951)

The Great Books presents: John J. Miller is joined by Missy Andrews of the Center for Literary Education to discuss Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

The Old Man and the Sea is a short novel written by the American author Ernest Hemingway in 1951 in Cuba, and published in 1952. It was the last major work of fiction written by Hemingway that was published during his lifetime. One of his most famous works, it tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.

Top Classic Cars: “1955 Aston Martin DB3S” (Video)

Gooding & Company proudly presents this beautiful 1955 Aston Martin DB3S. This car, chassis 102, is one of three Almond Green customer cars ordered for the the Australian racing team, the Kangaroo Stable.

As their lead car, 102 was campaigned throughout Europe, England, and New Zealand during 1955 and 1956, with the most notable result being a 2nd Overall finish at the 12 Hours of Hyères.

Today, this DB3S stands as a wonderful reminder of the glory days of international sports car racing – a halcyon period when eager amateurs could find themselves locked in battle with the works racing teams on the world’s great circuits.

Nostalgia: “Gas And Glamour” In Los Angeles

I love cars and I love Los Angeles for being a city of cars. Over the last decade or so, I have been intrigued by L. A.’s love affair with the automobile, tracing back to a time when cars themselves were objects of beauty.

“Those cars are no longer on the streets today but the buildings from that era remain. As an architectural photographer, I wanted to capture L. A.’s car-culture-induced optimism and ambition reflected in polychromatic, starspangled coffee shops, gas stations, and car washes, that once lured the gaze of passing motorists.” (Ashok Sinha)

Ashok Sinha is an architectural and fine art photographer whose large-scale photographs capture a sense of place tied to both natural landscapes and built environments. His photographs have been published by editorial outlets such as The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Interior Design, and exhibited at The Museum of the City of New York, the International Center of Photography, and The Royal Photographic Society.

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Art History Videos: Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger – 1955” (Christie’s)

Christie's logoBetween 13 December 1954 and 14 February 1955, Picasso painted a series of fifteen canvases based on Eugène Delacroix’s masterwork Les femmes d’Alger, each of which he assigned an identifying letter from A to O. Together, these paintings constitute Picasso’s single greatest achievement in the decades following the end of the Second World War. They represent his first comprehensive appropriation and thoroughgoing exploration of an important painting by an earlier artist, as well as the most focused analysis he had done since the war years of the female figure set within a specific spatial environment.

Picasso painted the present Femmes d’Alger, Version F on 17 January 1955, around the halfway point in the cycle. It is the culminating, most fully resolved canvas from the first phase of the series, when Picasso favored medium-sized formats for his protean explorations.

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Classics: “1959 BMW 507 Series II” – Amazing Story Behind The “Perfect Car”

From Classic Driver Magazine (April 18, 2020):

1959 BMW 507 Series II Interior“Astonishing” is the word we are looking to describe this BMW 507. A word we use a lot if it comes to selling classic cars, but only a little few deserve this ‘title’ like this 507 does. When an exceptional model, with an unique story, from what the historical documents are well archieved, it just makes us going crazy. Add matching numbers and -colors tot his list and we are losing it totally. That’s no different with this 507.

1959 BMW 507 Series II FrontMax Hoffman convinced BMW that if they built a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz 300SL, he would sell it profitable in the United States. The BMW was intended to fill the gap between the affordable sports cars like the triumph and MG and the exclusive cars like the Mercedes-Benz 300SL and Ferrari 250 GT California. Though, BMW couldn’t achieve their target price, for what the BMW 507 was even more expensive than the 300SL. BMW found itself in a financial difficult situation and almost went bankrupt. At the end of the day, BMW recovered from this “failure” and the 507 even became a true flagship in the whole history of automotive.

Classic Driver MagazineIn the ‘50s BMW disposed over all fundamental ingredients which would make the 507 complete. An all-aluminium 3.2-litre V8 engine was placed in a shortened chassis of the 502. This ingenious masterpiece produced no less than 150hp and sounds like a guitar solo in your ears. To save weigt, the body was made of aluminium, which results in a 1280kg’s for a fully finished 507. Besides the phenomenal results, BMW wanted to offer luxury as well. Both aspects are just spot on.

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1950’s Artwork: English Painter John Minton’s “Lavish” Food Book Covers

From Apollo Magazine article (April 13, 2020):

John Minton Illustration for French Cooking by Eizabeth DavidMinton had gone on to produce a series of spectacularly colourful oil paintings of Corsica on his return to London, exhibiting them at the Lefevre Gallery in 1949. Many of them depicted fruit and fish and other ingredients for Mediterranean cuisine, and so confirmed Minton as the obvious choice for the David commission. 

David delightedly recalled that: ‘In the shop windows [Minton’s] brilliant blue Mediterranean bay, his tables spread with white cloths and bright fruit, bowls of pasta and rice, a lobster, pitchers and jugs and bottles of wine, could be seen far down the street.’

Variations on these two images were used for the double-page spread on which the title appeared in David’s second book, French Country Cooking (1951), while the wrap-around image on the dust jacket depicted the interior of a well-stocked kitchen, many of its utensils borrowed from the author to ensure accurate representation.

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Francis John Minton (25 December 1917 – 20 January 1957) was an English painter, illustrator, stage designer and teacher. After studying in France, he became a teacher in London, and at the same time maintained a consistently large output of works. In addition to landscapes, portraits and other paintings, some of them on an unusually large scale, he built up a reputation as an illustrator of books.

In the mid-1950s, Minton found himself out of sympathy with the abstract trend that was then becoming fashionable, and felt increasingly sidelined. He suffered psychological problems, self-medicated with alcohol, and in 1957 died by suicide.

From Wikipedia

Art Of The Garden: The Brilliant “Sunflowers” Of British Painter Charles Mahoney (1903-1968)

Charles Mahoney (1903-1968) The Garden 1950 LISS LLEWELLYN art website
Charles Mahoney (1903-1968), The Garden 1950

Charles Mahoney,(18 November 1903 – 11 May 1968): Painter, muralist, draughtsman and teacher, born Cyril Mahoney in London – his fellow-student Barnett Freedman re-christened him Charlie at the Royal College of Art, which he attended 1922-6 after a period at Beckenham School of Art under Percy Jowett. Early on, Mahoney established a reputation as a conscientious teacher.

He was at the Royal College 1928-53, from 1948-53 as a painting tutor, and was noted there for his concern for academic discipline.

Charles Mahoney Composite Plant 1954
Charles Mahoney, Composite Plant 1954

His portrait is included in Rodrigo Moynihan’s celebrated Teaching Staff of the Painting School at the Royal College of Art, 1949-50. From 1954 to 1963 he taught at the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting and from 1961 to 1968 at the Royal Academy Schools. He painted murals at Morley College 1928-30 with his colleagues Eric Ravillious and Edward Bawden.

Unfortunately these murals were destroyed during World War II. The work led to further murals: at Brockley School, Kent, with Evelyn Dunbar; and at Campion Hall Lady Chapel, Oxford. His oil paintings are frequently of a religious nature. He was a skilled botanist, and many of his drawings depict his garden at Wrotham, Kent.

He exhibited at NEAC and the RA, being made an RA elect in 1968. He is represented in the Tate Gallery and other public collections. The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, held a memorial exhibition in 1975. Exhibitions were held in 2000 at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury, and the Fine Art Society plc in association with Liss Fine Art.

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Documentaries: “Natalie Wood – What Remains Behind” On HBO (May 5)

The greatest roles of her life were behind the scenes. Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind is an intimate portrait of actor Natalie Wood’s life and career, told through the eyes of her daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner and others who knew her best. The film celebrates the woman behind the iconic imagery and explores the compelling details of Wood’s personal life and illustrious career that are often overshadowed by her tragic death.

The documentary premieres May 5th at 9pm on HBO.