Way back in the early 1970s, during the prior “pre-Photoshop” millennium, my fellow industrial design students and I labored to create photo-realistic renderings of products and cars with old-school, analog materials. Air-brushed gouache paints created super-smooth graduations of color, magic markers made deep shadows, and razor-sharp details like sparkling highlights and chrome reflections were added precisely with colored pencil.
Our shining inspiration was a series of print ads by Pontiac, which appeared in popular magazines like National Geographic. Exaggerated perspectives made for dynamic views of the “Wide Track” Pontiac cars, and the far-flung settings included romantic, young couples doing exotic things like surfing or rally racing in Europe. These dramatically lit and staged renderings of cars and people were totally believable and more glamorous and compelling than any photograph ever could be. And who were the artists? Each of fantastic renderings was signed only with the mysterious initials: “VK AF.”
VK was Van Kauman, a former Disney animator who painted the wonderful figures and background settings. AF was Art Fitzpatrick, a long-time automotive illustrator. Together they created 285 of these magical masterpieces for Pontiac.
This book brings you the art of Art Fitzpatrick, featuring new paintings of many of the muscle cars and other “Wide Track” Pontiacs. The large format is fitting – the square book opens up to a wide, two-page layout and the car renderings are reproduced in the eye-popping panoramas. The exaggerated perspective of AF’s early work is best appreciated at this big scale and even at that, some of the cars literally burst out of the layout frames.
But wait – there’s more! The text contains the stories behind the cars from the time when Detroit ruled the roads (and showrooms). Automotive marketer Jim Wanger’s remembrances will be of interest to any fan of muscle cars. The competition for bigger and bigger engine displacements, competitive racing sponsorships, even pop culture cars like the customized Monkeemobile GTO and the Smokey and Bandit Firebird are all included. Come for the art – stay for the stories.
by Jim Wangers, Art Fitzpatrick
2007, 64 pages, 12.4 x 0.6 x 12.2 inches, Hardcover