The Art Car: Extreme Individual Artistic Expression


The Art Car: outsider, folk, and contemporary art all rolled into one. The exact history of the Art Car emergence is a bit murky. Although Wikipedia does mention that in the 1920’s there was a movement to decorate old cars with racy or odd cartoons. This practice may very well have given birth to the Art Car we know today.

The movement began gaining momentum in the mid 80’s and really coalesced and took hold in the 90’s with documentary filmmaker, and Art Car artist, Harrod Blank making three documentaries on the subject. Today there are entire festivals devoted to Art Cars like the West Coast’s ArtCar Fest.

The majority of Art Cars are licensed, street legal, and functioning vehicles. Their owners drive them just like any other vehicle. Seen as the ultimate display of individuality in this post modern age of car-culture Art Car enthusiasts are strong proponents of having no standards. It’s an anything goes sub-culture that promotes individual creative expression. Simply said, there is no possible way to do an Art Car “wrong.”

Below are a few photos I have taken of Art Cars that have appeared at Baltimore’s ArtScape festival over the years.

(Click on the images for larger versions.)