[Photos: Top -- Dr. Fred Simeone speaks to the audience gathered for the Demonstration Day, July 27, 2013; 2nd -- Volunteer driving Simeone's 1954 Ferrari 375MM; 3rd -- Simeone driving his 1953 Jaguar C-Type; Bottom -- the 1953 Cunningham C4R in the collection. Photo credit: Connie Ann Kirk.].
Recently visited the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia for the first time. I rode on a bus trip sponsored by the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen and wrote about the trip for my Rochester Motorsports page on Examiner.com.
I had never visited a car museum before. Dr. Simeone maintains that cars (certain "historically significant" automobiles, at least) should be regarded -- and treated, apparently -- as works of art. His museum contains 65 automobiles that he has collected over several decades.
I am more of a racer fan than a car fan, I have to admit. I like certain cars better than others (tend to favor open-wheel race cars over closed-wheel, e.g.), but it's racers who really intrigue me about motorsports the most. Still, the day was educational, to be sure, and Dr. Simeone was a good host to the Watkins Glen bus group that day, who had traveled so far to see his collection and the demonstration of 4 of the cars.
Read the article about the day HERE.
In the sense of a marriage between design and function, etc. I can see the automobile having artistic qualities, certainly. But a full-fledged work of art? I'm not closed-minded against the idea, but I'm not sure I buy the concept, quite yet, either. Does an object made for a specific, useful function -- and not art for art's sake, as it were -- deserve the same sort of consideration as fine art -- a painting or sculpture, e.g.? Hmm. Still thinking about that.
Certain automobiles are a thing of beauty, to be sure. And these can be defined in the eyes of the beholder. The curves, color, gleam, shine, length, height, shape, etc. can be aesthetically pleasing. Some cars can make your pulse jump (if you're at all a fan, I suppose!). Do they make you *think* like a painting or a sculpture does, though? Do they invite you in to dream and put yourself in the picture (car?), relate what you see to your own experience of the world, etc. They can certainly expand your world view, I believe, enhance your knowledge and understanding. And what about the car's history -- competing in or winning key races around the world? What effect does that have on the "art" of that particular car, if any? Hmm....must think more on all of this! Ha.
While I was there, I purchased the book, The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles, produced by the museum. Information about the book says it argues a preference for preservation over restoration in automobiles. Perhaps some of the essays included there will offer more food for thought on the above questions as well.
[Muse: What do you think, dear reader? Should automobiles be regarded as works of art, like paintings and sculpture? Why or why not? If you think so, should they be preserved and kept on exhibit in public museums and not driven; exhibited but driven occasionally for demonstration purposes; or kept on the road or at tracks, driving to their limits in their "normal" lives as a car until they face a "natural" death? What do you think?].