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LUSTER: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting


LUSTER: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting, is a traveling museum exhibition comprised of over 55 paintings by nearly 15 of today’s realists and hyperrealists who specialize in automobiles and motorcycles as their primary subject of choice. LUSTER will be on exhibit at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum from June 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023. This exhibit has been generously supported by The Community Foundation of DeKalb County.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, cars and motorcycles have not only been ubiquitous on the nation’s streets and highways, but also in film, top forty hits, and in painting. With the emergence of photo-realism in the 1960’s, motor vehicles assumed a special place of distinction as subject matter in the iconography of American art.

Exhibiting artists include (in alphabetical order): A.D. Cook (Las Vegas, NV), Randy Ford (Eastampton, NJ), Allan Gorman (West Orange, NJ), Marc G. Jones (Loveland, CO), Cheryl Kelley (Northern California), Richard Lewis (Los Angeles, CA), Lory Lockwood (New Orleans, LA), Robert Petillo (Hardyston, NJ), Kris Preslan (Lake Oswego, OR), Joseph Santos (Buena Park, CA), Ken Scaglia (Weston, CT), John E. Schaeffer (La Grange, TX), Guenevere “Moto Painter” Schwien (Portland, OR), and Harold Zabady (Camp Hill, PA). Their work exemplifies the very best of automotive painting being done today, and builds on that of the first wave of photo-realists in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, which included the likes of Harold Cleworth, Don Eddy, Richard Estes, and Ralph Goings.

LUSTER encompasses a broad range of cars and motorcycles from vintage vehicles from the 1940’s and before to more recent classics. During the post-World War II boom years, cheap gas and the advent of the Interstate Highway System in 1956 propelled automotive design and sales. In the 1950s, the industry reached new heights by offering consumers increased horsepower for thrust and speed, and more artfully, integrated design which was dramatized in the 1960’s with features such as tail fins. LUSTER features paintings of passenger automobiles from those boom years and since, plus a range of motorcycles and racing vehicles.

Like the shiny automobiles and motorcycles portrayed by the exhibit’s artists, its paintings can be characterized by the luster that permeates their imagery. Chrome ornamentation and trim together with enameled bodywork, glass, and interior fabrication to meet the needs of purpose-built vehicles of all sorts: these are the surfaces which recent realists and hyperrealists have exploited to generate true, virtuosic masterpieces.

Serving as Curator for LUSTER Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobile and Motorcycle Painting is David J. Wagner, who earned his Ph.D. in American Studies and served as a museum director for 20 years.

For tour venue locations and dates, and a complete catalogue of exhibition contents, visit:

For further information, contact:


(414) 221-6878;;

Member: American Alliance of Museums; International Council of Museums


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