June 14–September 15, 2013

Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles

These are some of the most indispensable cars in automotive history, all in one place… - The Wall Street Journal

  • 1936 Delahaye 135M Figoni and Falaschi Competition Coupe. Jim Patterson/The Patterson Collection, Louisville, KY. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • Ken Gross, guest curator of Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles, gives an overview of the exhibition. 

  • Watch the cars rolling in.

  • Jeff Lane with Lane Motor Museum talks about Sensuous Steel and the Tatra T-97 on view in the exhibition.  

  • 1930 Jordan Model Z Speedway Ace Roadster. Collection of Edmund J. Stecker Family Trust. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • Mark Lambert, Restoration Mechanic and Automotive Historian, talks about the upcoming Sensuous Steel exhibition. 

  • 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster™. Owned and restored by Edsel & Eleanor Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow Sedan. Collection of Academy of Art University Automobile Museum, San Francisco. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1938 Talbot-Lago T150C-SS Teardrop Coupe. Collection of J. Willard Marriott, Jr. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster. Courtesy of The Revs Institute for Automotive Research @ the Collier Collection. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1938 Tatra T97. Collection of Lane Motor Museum. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1936 Stout Scarab. Collection of Larry Smith. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet. Collection of Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1930 KJ Henderson Streamline. Collection of Frank Westfall. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt

  • 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt. Collection of the Chrysler Group, LLC. Photograph © 2013 Peter Harholdt


  • Same-day and advance tickets may be purchased on site at the Frist Art Museum.
  • Frist Art Museum Members may reserve tickets by calling 615.744.3248 48-hours in advance of admission time.
  • Out-of-town guests may purchase advance tickets through Now Playing Nashville.
  • Hotel packages are available through the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.visitmusiccity.com/sensuoussteel.

Special reciprocal offer: Throughout the run of Sensuous Steel, Nashville's Lane Motor Museum and the Frist Art Museum will offer reciprocal admission discounts when ticket stubs are presented. Just bring your ticket stub from whichever museum you visit first to the other museum, and receive a discount (half-price discount at the Frist Art Museum, and $3 discount at Lane Motor Museum).

Watch a feature story about Sensuous Steel on CBS Sunday Morning. 


Interested in a Sensuous Steel catalogue? 
Sensuous Steel catalogues are available in the Frist Art Museum Gift Shop. If you are unable to visit the Frist in person, you may call 615-744-3990 to purchase a catalogue. Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery. 


Sensuous Steel: Art Deco Automobiles is an exhibition of Art Deco automobiles from some of the most renowned car collections in the United States.

Inspired by the Frist Art Museum’s historic Art Deco building, this exhibition features spectacular automobiles and motorcycles from the 1930s and ‘40s that exemplify the classic elegance, luxurious materials, and iconography of motion that characterizes vehicles influenced by the Art Deco style.

Fascination with automobiles transcends age, gender, and environment.  While today automotive manufacturers often strive for economy and efficiency, there was a time when elegance reigned.  Influenced by the Art Deco movement that began in Paris in the early 1920s and propelled to prominence with the success of the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, automakers embraced the sleek new streamlined forms and aircraft-inspired materials, creating memorable automobiles that still thrill all who see them. The exhibition features 18 automobiles and two motorcycles from some of the most important collectors and collections in the United States.

Sensuous Steel is organized for the Frist Art Museum by guest curator Ken Gross, former director of the Petersen Automotive Museum. Gross served as guest curator for The Allure of the Automobile, a nationally acclaimed exhibition displayed at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in 2010; additionally, he developed a revised version of the exhibition for the Portland Art Museum the following year. Most recently, Gross curated Speed: The Art of the Performance Automobile exhibited at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City and the opening exhibition for LeMay–America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash. A highly respected automotive journalist for over 40 years, Gross writes for numerous publications including  AutoWeek, Playboy, Hagerty’s Magazine, Sports Car Market, Motor Trend Classic, Popular Mechanics, msnautos.com, Old Cars Weekly, and The Rodder’s Journal. A noted authority on automobiles, he has judged at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for 24 years. Gross also judges at the Amelia Island Concours and was the Chief Judge at the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance. Additionally, Gross has received many awards including the 2009 IAMA Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Lee Iacocca Award, the 2008 Washington Auto Press “Golden Quill Award,” the Society of Automotive Historians’ “Cugnot Award,” and “The James Valentine Memorial Award” for excellence in automotive historical research.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Location: Ingram Gallery




Links of interest:

The Frist Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Art Deco Society


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