For lovers of fine art, there’s no better weekend to indulge in delight than Art Basel. A display of the most noted modern and contemporary artists from around the world, the event is held three times a year in three locations, Miami, Basel and Hong Kong, each signifying a geographic hot spot for intellectual exchange. The collections on display are enough to make anyone stop and think, but often, the canvas used can be art in itself.
Especially when the canvas is of the automotive variety.
The art of the automobile isn’t just a turn of phrase or figure of speech. The process through which a car is created is intricate. The extent to which design teams must go to craft a perfect combination of engineering, aerodynamic abilities, beauty and comfort is an art form in itself.
In Miami Beach from Dec. 4-7, artists Rich B. Caliente, Alex Mijares, Alec Monopoly, Mr. Brainwash and more called for canvases of Bentleys, Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis. The art of the automobile gained an additional layer of creativity as celebrities, admirers and passersby looked on.
Rich B. Caliente is a prolific automotive design artist known for his unique approach to automotive design. He collaborates on projects with Rick Ross, founder of Maybach Music Group, as you see in the logo on their project cars. Caliente has taken some of the finest automotive masterpieces and made them museum-worthy. From the world’s first hand crafted 23k gold calipers, to the striking wrap of Lebron James’ Aventador, Caliente hasn’t just been a part of aftermarket modification – he has defined its gold standard. For Art Basel this year, he took his hand to the new Lamborghini Huracan, applying a black skullz edition wrap, subtle red accents, glossed vents and Vossen wheels, and as a finishing touch, added his signature in white.
“We followed the lines of the car with the design, but not only did we follow the lines,” Caliente said, “we made sure the art made sense in regards to placement on the vehicle. Only certain parts were used as a canvas to create this piece.”
When it was finished, the Huracan was displayed at Lou La Vie, and in collaboration with Lou La Vie, Precision Concierge New York (PCNY) and Rich B. Caliente, graffiti artist King Saladeen added his touch to Caliente’s creation with original graffiti work on the hood and side skirts. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Raheem Saladeen Johnson has worked with PCNY before, transforming a Rolls Royce Ghost for them to drive in a Gold Rush Rally.
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Miami-based artist Alex Mijares is known for vibrant artwork filled with hints of his Cuban and Spanish roots. The darkly outlined patterns within his pieces are reminiscent of stained glass, and can be found on canvas, instruments, shoes, rifles and exotic cars. A yellow Aventador, provided by Elite Lifestyles, received the Mijares treatment for Art Basel this year, turning into a gallery-worthy exotic with matching calipers.
Mijares described his creation process for this piece, the second Lamborghini he has painted, noting his slight nervousness about working without a sketch, mock up or ability to paint the canvas white and start again.
“It’s just me and the car… I get one shot at it and I can’t mess up,” he told us. “My mind, body and hand become one and I need to trust every movement and brush stroke… What I look for in these types of cars is not the value but the lines of the car – they are what guide me in my design.”
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For fans of the graffiti movement, the names Alec Monopoly and Mr. Brainwash are already familiar. Mr. Brainwash’s renditions of iconic images reimagine their creation with a grittier edge. Alec Monopoly’s true identity hasn’t been made publicly available, but this hasn’t stopped the New Yorker from collaborating with the likes of AVICII, The W Hotel, Madonna and Vitamin Water.
For Art Basel, Alec Monopoly brought along the Monopoly car fleet, which includes a Ferrari, a Mercedes-Benz, a Bentley, a Lamborghin and a bus. “Painting on cars is an amazing experience,” he told us, “because each vehicle has completely different lines and attitude to take into consideration. Having my art on cars like the 458 Italia is incredibly humbling, I love it!”
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As part of Pininfarina’s celebration of their entry to the American market collaboration with Lou La Vie, Mr. Brainwash took to Lou La Vie’s showroom with a new Maserati and made it his own. Through a Pollock-inspired paint splatter process, he held a live splash painting of the car, dripping neon colors across the opalescent white paint job and leaving streaks on the floor and wall behind them as hundreds of Art Basel attendees looked on.
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Flip through the galleries above of each artist’s take on the art of the automobile, and perhaps even gain a little inspiration for how one of these masterminds can take your car and make it truly one-of-a-kind. Thanks toJasen Delgado for the photos of Alex Mijares’ creation, Lou La Vie for the photos of Mr. Brainwash’s Maserati, Solomon Lunger for photos of Rich B. Caliente’s Huracán and Chris Clarke for his photos of the Monopoly car fleet.
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