Autoeater is the newest addition in Midtown Alliance’s growing public art program that features temporary art installations throughout the district. Carved from timeless Carrara marble, the thin skin of translucent stone reveals the contour of a Fiat Panda—a popular automobile mass-produced in the 1980’s—as it is being swallowed. The sculpture invites comment on Atlanta’s relationship with the automobile in the context of one of the city’s most walkable urban districts.
In late-2016, Midtown Alliance issued a request for proposals from local, national and international artists for a new piece of temporary art at the corner of 10th and Peachtree Street to succeed the Rockspinner, a 22,000 lb. granite boulder mounted on a rotating base. Members of Midtown Alliance’s public art committee helped review the proposals and selected the Autoeater, created by German artists Venske & Spänle.
Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle, born in 1971 and 1969 respectively, live and work in New York and Munich. They began collaborating on artwork in 1991. Their sculpture and installation work has been shown in museums, galleries, art fairs and public art sites worldwide on five continents. In Atlanta, they are represented by Marcia Wood Gallery.
Using brilliantly pure white marble, the artists transform the material from hard blocks into sensuous shapes that melt, fold, dissolve, flow and wiggle. Light bounces off the highly polished surfaces of the biomorphic forms, emphasizing the inflated curving lines, folds and creases that evoke living forms.
The work references pop-culture as well, having been inspired by the cartoon characters they grew up with, the Smurfs, while the pristine play of form, line and light speak to minimalism. Working with a classic material expertly by hand, Venske & Spänle bring each piece to life with meticulous carving and labor intensive sanding and polishing. The artists subvert the expectation of the viewer by suggesting objects that are light, soft and malleable, while concealing at first their origins of weight and mass.
Autoeater was shipped to Midtown from a marble quarry in northern Italy, near Tuscany. The marble comes from the same quarry that was a meeting place for major artists from the 50s and 60s such as Henry Moore, Hans Arp, Joan Miro, and, notably, Isamo Noguchi, the artist who designed the modernist playscape in Piedmont Park in 1976. Autoeater was brokered for Midtown Alliance by Marcia Wood Gallery and will be on display in Midtown for a three-year term. The installation sits on property owned by the Dewberry Capital Corporation, which leases the temporary park space at 10th and Peachtree Street to Midtown Alliance for $1 per year.