This Man Turns Vintage Ferrari Parts Into Art

A peek inside the world’s fastest art gallery, inspired by epic battles at Laguna Seca.

byBen Keeshin| PUBLISHED Mar 22, 2016 2:45 PM
This Man Turns Vintage Ferrari Parts Into Art

Cars are art! Sculpture, they say. Sure, well, yes. But that takes some imagining. There's always the pesky fact that cars are ultimately machines meant to ferry people between places. They're utilitarian objects, even if the locations they're carrying folks between are fluffy as an art museum and the beach. What if an artist could harness all that's gorgeous about cars—their shapes, shine, color and sex appeal—and make it serve nothing beyond aesthetics?

Meet Gregory Johnston, a painter and sculptor who grew up watching racecars swap paint at Laguna Seca before becoming a master of the stuff himself. His early works drew direct inspiration from mid-century European racing series, automotive paint in classic hues slapped (meticulously) on raw aluminum. Today, the artist describes his work as "where the ghosts of Cy Twombly and Le Corbusier give fire to my imagination." We might offer the comparison of Johnston's work to "the crisp intensity of Sol Lewitt fused with Rothko's vibrant color palette, minus the vibrating ominousness." But then, getting your art analysis from a web-based auto journalist is about as wrong-headed as calling cars "art."

Johnston's work is currently up in Palm Beach at the Mark Borghi Gallery, under the the title Corsa Rossa. It's well worth a trip to see the familiar automotive forms you lust after in a setting in which it's okay to linger. Still, as ever with art, don't touch.