Two-Wheelers: A Survey of Bike-Inspired Art

Bikes are all the rage. Year-after-year, bicycle use is on the increase. According to a 2012 report by the Alliance for Biking and Walking, the number of U.S. commuters who rode bicycles to work increased 57 percent from 2000 to 2009. Across the nation, traffic lanes for cars are being sacrificed to accommodate bike lanes and almost every major city offers rental bikes at multiple self-serve locations. Boutique hotels also have bikes on hand for guest to borrow at their leisure.

From left, In New York, Maritime Hotel bicycles parked on West 16th Street near the hotel earlier this month and bikes from the Jane Hotel in the West Village spotted on Bowery Street on June 30.

The bicycle trend is a green choice (helping to reduce auto traffic and related pollution), about health and exercise, and in many cases style. Vintage and vintage-look bikes are popular and there are a bunch of street style blogs with bicycle themes such as Cycle Chic and Velo Vogue: Where the Bike Lane Meets the Runway. (Also check out the Rugby by Ralph Lauren Tweed Run.)

The cultural affinity for bikes is showing up in the fine art world too, where two-wheelers are inspiring works by contemporary artists. The recently published book, “Bike Art: Bicycles in Art Around the World,”
is a wide-ranging survey exploring aesthetic representations of the bike.

A snapshot of bicycle works is captured here, including an installation by Ai Weiwei at the Havana Biennial and what appears to be a moss-covered bike that is a part of the “Sculpted Matter” exhibit currently on view at Paul Kasmin.

All photos © Arts Observer

NEW YORK—Top of page and detail above, “Philemon et Baucis,” 1991 (treated bronze cast of sliced bicycle with brown and green patina) by Arman (July 2012), part of “Sculpted Matter” at Paul Kasmin, on view through Aug. 17, 2012.

NEW YORK—”Bicycle Wheel,” 1951 (third version after lost original of 1913, metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool) by Marcel Duchamp at the Museum of Modern Art (July 2012). Duchamp’s early bike-inspired work was a forerunner in the field.

NEW YORK—Detail of “Louse Point” by Anh Duong.

NEW YORK—”Louse Point,” 2010 (oil on canvas) by Anh Duong, from exhibit of self-portraits at Sonnabend Gallery (December 2011).

HAVANA—”Bicicletas ‘Forever’ (‘Forever’ Bicycles),” 2003 (74 bicycles) by Ai Weiwei, part of the Fontanals-Cisneros Collection exhibited at the Universal Art Building of the National Museum of Fine Art during the Havana Biennial (June 2012). A more ambitious version of the work was installed at an exhibition in Taiwan in January 2012 and required 1,200 bikes.

BROOKLYN—”Spacelander Bicycle,” designed in 1946 and manufactured circa 1960 by Bomard Industries in Grand Haven, Mich. (fiberglass, chromed steel, rubber, other metals, vinyl) by Benjamin J. Bowden at the Brooklyn Museum (March 2012). Only 522 were made before Bomard went out of business.

MIAMI—”Honda,” 2002 (metal and candles) by Mark Handforth, part of the “American Exuberance” exhibit at the Rubell Family Collection (June 2012).

There is one comment

  1. Mike Rubbo

    Can I throw my hat in the ring? My bike art mainly goes for
    the beauty of the body on the bike,
    getting on the bike
    getting off the bike, and almost always
    the stately situp such as the ride in Europe.

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