We Want These Vibrant, Pop-Art Silkscreens of Malaise-Era Automotive Decay
You can own your own piece of Rainer Keller's “Machine Overdrive.”
When Swiss artist Rainer Keller bought his first car after arriving in America in the late 1980s, he immediately hit the road. “I bought one of those old Cadillac ambulances, like the Seventies Ghostbusters thing, and me and my good friend from Switzerland, we just took a road trip all across the U.S.” he says during a call from his New York City studio. The car barely made it back to New York, after stops in New Orleans, Texas, and California, but Rainer was hooked on old American iron, and its connection to the landscape.
“You see it when you drive around the countryside here, you know,” Keller says. “In somebody’s backyard, there’s like this rusted out car with the grass growing in there, a tree growing through it.”
This idea of the reclaiming of the mechanical by the natural became the foundation for an ongoing series of silkscreen prints and panels—titled Machine Overdrive—that Keller recently completed. The work is based on photos of a dozen obscure vehicles shot on the streets of New York, at a rate of one per month, over the course of a year. A vintage Land Rover, a VW Fastback, an Alfa GTV6, a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a customized Dodge Van, a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow all make appearances.
“I was looking for an unusual models mostly from the time of when pop art was popular, from the Sixties and Seventies,” Keller says, “It’s amazing to see that those kind of models are still on the street in New York.”
Keller raised the contrast of the images digitally, added mechanical and natural collage elements into the background, and hand-screened each of the pieces on museum quality paper. The results are at once stunning and mesmerizing—like the best road trip and the worst acid trip frozen together and evanescent.
Individual prints are for sale, as well as a boxed edition of all twelve, plus large-scale mountings of multiple images on panels. Having owned a pair of vintage 1980s Jeep Grand Wagoneers, I couldn’t resist purchasing the glorious GW one for my office. Once you have a look at the series, you’ll want to contact Rainer and do the same for your favorites.