ArtCollecting Memories

Fine art meets Indy car art

Posters of the Detroit Grand Prix Indy car race

dia diego rivera muralOver the years many major races have released posters for their event that have been fairly arty. Watkins Glen famously utilized the talents of Michael Turner for painted images that pre-supposed the leaders for that year’s Grand Prix. Watkins Glen hasn’t held a GP since 1980 but the Detroit Grand Prix has picked up the mantel and features Indy car art rather than photos for their posters.

Among the best are two that reimagine famous fine art as Indy car art. My favorite uses a famous Detroit artwork: the murals that are sitting in the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA). Titled “Detroit Industry”, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera decorated an entire gallery with scenes of the production lines of Detroit as they were in the industrial 1930s. It was funded by the Works Project Administration (WPA), which was created to employ artists during the Great Depression. Rivera painted a huge set of murals right on the gallery walls (above left). DIA is very proud of of this work and it is featured prominently in all of their promotional pieces.

dia diego rivera mural north wallThe North Wall

On the gallery’s North Wall (right), teams of workers create the pieces for assembly while others toil on the engine production line. Look closely at the mural and at the snippet of it that has been used for the 1989 GP poster at top. Art students faithfully reproduced the Rivera art and then substituted a CART Indy car being assembled for the engines.

This piece is a prized part of my racing art collection. I’ve mounted and framed the poster, cropping off all of the event info and just using the art part. You can see the entire poster below.

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, by Georges Seurat 1884Seurat, pointillism and Indy car art

Another famous artwork reimagined for Indy car art is by Georges Seurat. Seurat is famous for using thousands of tiny points of paint to create a textured image for his paintings. His 1884 painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” (left) is again faithfully 1993 detroit grand prix poster 1993recreated by local art students. Adding Indy cars speeding by folks relaxing in the park is very appropriate for the current Detroit race. Belle Island Park is now the host for the Detroit Indy car race and the cars race upon the roads normally traversed by the park’s weekend visitors.

It’s a colorful piece created for the 1993 race and is another poster that also graces my racing art collection. Again I have cropped and framed the poster to the artwork. The art students retained the pointillist border around the poster’s central art and it creates a nice “frame” just inside the outside frame holding it all together.

detroit grand prix 1989 poster1993 detroit grand prix poster 1993
Where to find the posters

The posters are long out of production and not widely available anymore but they can be found readily on ebay. Try to find unmounted posters so that you can mount and frame the art any way you like. Framed art also costs way more to ship than a tubed poster so there’s that. Prices are creeping up as the posters become harder to find but they appear on ebay semi-frequently. So paying a small fortune for one may be unnecessary.

The classic form that these pieces take may even convince your significant other to let you display them in your living room. So there’s that too.

You can start your search for Detroit Grand Prix posters right here

You can find more racing art of all kinds here