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Artist Daniel Arsham’s ‘eroded’ vehicle exhibition cruises into Los Angeles

Whether it’s a collection of cool muscle cars, futuristic prototypes, electric rides or even antique historical machines, car enthusiasts are used to seeing shiny vehicles in pristine condition on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

However, the museum’s latest exhibition is showcasing the effects of time and environmental elements on vehicles through sculpted pieces constructed, or deconstructed, by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham.

“For us, all of these cars are kind of cast in time and slowly decaying,” said Michael Bodell, chief operating officer of the museum as he stood inside the new exhibition dubbed “Arsham Auto Motive” a few days before it opened to the public on Feb. 25.

“And in museums you’re typically trying to preserve objects, but this is different,” he continued. “It’s celebrating that these objects are eroding and decaying.”

Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Bronze DeLorean by Daniel Arsham at the Petersen Automotive Museum. ’The museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Artist Daniel Arsham’s 1961 Eroded Ferrari GT. The Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Daniel Arsham Studio Fabrication Manager Natalia Blanco get the Arsham Auto Motive exhibit ready for visitors at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb 23, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Artist Daniel Arsham’s Ash and Pyrite Eroded Mustang GT. The Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

The Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Blue Calcite Eroded Porsche 911 by Daniel Arsham at the Petersen Automotive Museum. ’The musum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum Exhibit Preparer Tony Clark and Daniel Arsham Studio Fabrication Manager Natalia Blanco get the Arsham Auto Motive exhibit ready for visitors at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb 23, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Artist Daniel Arsham’s 1961 Eroded Ferrari GT. The Petersen Automotive Museum’s newest exhibition Arsham Auto Motive by world-renowned artist Daniel Arsham opens February 24 at the Los Angeles museum. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Petersen Automotive Museum Exhibit Preparer Tony Clark and Daniel Arsham Studio Fabrication Manager Natalia Blanco get Arsham Auto Motive exhibit ready for visitors at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Thursday, Feb 23, 2022. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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Running through Nov. 26, the exhibition, located on the museum’s first floor inside the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery, features about a dozen pieces created by Arsham, a New York-based interdisciplinary artist whose work has been displayed at places like The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, The Athens Biennale in Athens, Greece, The New Museum in New York and others.

His exhibition at the Petersen features vehicles like a 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback, a 1975 Porsche 911 and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California as well as other sculptural items. With the use of things like selenite crystals, quartz, pyrite and plaster, Arsham turned these collector vehicles into decomposed-looking machines, creating the appearance of an apocalyptic parking lot inside the museum.

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One of the most stunning pieces is the 1968 Mustang, the same model that was featured in the 1968 Steve McQueen film “Bullitt.”

Pieces of the exterior and interior of the matte gray Mustang have been scooped out by the artist and in those spaces he embedded chunks of crystals along with quartz and pyrite to give the appearance of an organic growth of sorts on a long abandoned and perhaps recently unearthed car.

“The crystals are kind of a unique way to show that deconstruction,” Bodell said. “It’s an organic shape. Cars are non-organic objects and it brings an organic element into the object.”

Accompanying this piece is a three-dimensional sculptural recreation of a movie poster for the film, which also sports the same crystals embedded into holes and cracks of the vehicle.

Arsham has also inserted the crystals and minerals into various places on the Porsche 911 and the Ferrari, except these cars are completely covered in a white plaster-like material, adding a dramatic and almost ghostly feel to those pieces.

Also on display and implanted with crystals and pyrite are smaller-scale models of a Porsche 911 and the famous 1981 DeLorean from the “Back to the Future” films.

With its gullwing doors wide open, the DeLorean was given a chemical patina treatment that turned it into an aged green color, giving it a long submerged underwater look.

“Arsham Auto Motive”

When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through Nov. 26

Where: Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Tickets: $19.95 for adults; $17.95 for those 62-and-older; $12.95 for those ages 12-17; $10.95 children ages 4-11. Vault tours are an additional $25 (age 12+) or $10 (ages 4-11). Children younger than 4 are not permitted on vault tours. For more information, call 323-930-2277 or visit petersen.org.

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