Today on Museum Bites we’re wrapping up our three-part series on bicycles with a tour through the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s (MIA) delightful display of bike art. The MIA teamed up with local bike aficionados, Handsome Cycles to craft three eye-catching bikes based on iconic works featured within their hallowed halls. Hop aboard for a fun ride through art and history. We begin in the French countryside…
Rustic Bike: Our first bicycle is based on Grainstack, Sun in the Mist (1891) by Claude Monet (1840-1926). Like the flowery fields of the French countryside, this delightful bicycle is painted with splashes of pinks, purples, yellows, and greens. It sports a front-end storage crate that is practical for both produce and pets. Sensible pedals and wide, wrist-friendly handlebars give this bike a leisurely vibe for rides in the countryside or a quick trip to market. Just pop your picnic and bottle of vin inside the handy crate and off you go.
Monet’s Grainstack, Sun in the Mist depicts a mound of fresh hay, a common site during harvest in 19th century France. A hazy mist surrounds the earthen pile as the sun gently warms the damp mass. Monet painted a series of wheat stacks in similar fashion each capturing a different light and season. He is one of the founding members of the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers, a rebellious group of rabble-rousers that turned the art world on its head in the late 1800s. Click on this Museum Bites: Coloring Outside the Lines link to learn more.
Fun Arty Fact #1: The term Impressionism was coined by French art critic, Louis Leroy. After attending the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Printmakers debut art show in 1874, Leroy sniffily complained these upstarts (i.e., Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, to name a few!) lacked talented since their art was blurry, crude and nothing but an impression.
Sleek Bike: The Tatra T87 was the inspiration for our next bicycle. Designed by Hans Ledwinka in 1936, and manufactured by Ringhoffer-Tatra-Werke AG of Czechoslovakia in 1948, this art deco-esque motorcar oozes class and its bicycle counterpart doesn’t disappoint.
Sporting drop handlebars, a powerful headlight, and flashy metal fenders, this ride is both pretty and practical. The sleek rear-wheel cover keeps annoying splatters under wraps and the retro headlamp is sure to light the way.
Fun Arty Fact #2: Art Deco transformed everyday objects like cameras, record players, radios, cars, even trains into functional works of art. If you’d like to see some shining examples, click on this Museum Bites: Dazzling Deco link to learn more.
Mod Bike: Our final bike is a multi-colored mod bike based on Frank Stella’s (b.1936) Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II (1969). The white, pink-rimmed wheels, rainbow-colored frame, and snazzy spoke cover guarantee a kicky ride. Even the chain links are tricked out in multi-colored hues. The entire spinning ensemble is sure to turn heads. All that’s missing is a strobe headlight and jaunty bell.
Bell’s Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II is based on the protractor of middle school math fame. The semicircles within the painting create a rainbow effect and are based on circular cities and archaeological sites Bell visited during a trip to Iran and Azerbaijan in 1963. Click on this Minneapolis Institute of Art Collections link to take a closer look.
That wraps up our series on bicycles. Spring is definitely in the air and next week we’ll be bouncing from bikes to bunnies. In the meantime, wishing you a fun and festive week!
Cover photo by André Renkens courtesy of Pixabay.