DESIGNER RON ARAD’S CRUSHED CARS
TEXT BY TIM MCKEOUGH
After decades of bending materials like steel and aluminum into sculptural seats and tables, Ron Arad has claimed his place as one of the most provocative furniture-makers working today. However, the Israeli-born, London-based designer’s latest exhibition, “In Reverse,” opening February 12 at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, may surprise even his most devoted fans. Rather than introducing a new collection of items for the home, Arad has crushed six Fiat 500 automobiles flat and hung them on the gallery’s walls.
“I took functional things and turned them into nonfunctional things; I took three-dimensional objects and turned them into two dimensions,” says Arad, who owns and drives a Fiat 500 (his car is intact and currently in storage). The works represent a full circle of sorts for Arad, whose first furniture design was the 1981 Rover chair, which repurposed a car seat from a London scrapyard for residential use.
The works in the new series, called "Pressed Flowers," were flattened sideways by a shipyard press in the Netherlands, “so they remain like a cartoon version of the car,” says Arad. “I’m not destroying the vehicles–I’m immortalizing them.” The exhibition also includes Blame the Tools, a full-scale model of the car rendered in gridded steel and bronze and Restless, a warped bronze bookcase.
As for Arad’s own Fiat 500, he’ll only say that he’s saving it for the future. “One day,” he notes, “something will happen with that car.”
Through March 14, 515 West 27th St., New York; paulkasmingallery.com