There’s a new Italian master in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Rather than a Michelangelo or Raphael, this one comes from the pen of Dante Giacosa, and it’s a 1968 Fiat 500F Berlina.
The 500 was the mid-century people’s car of Italy, and Fiat built over 4 million of them from 1957 to 1975. Giacosa’s rear-engine design maximized cabin space in a compact vehicle. Plus, the fabric roof moved out of the way for open-air motoring but also reduced the amount of steel necessary for the 500’s construction. “The development of inexpensive, reliable cars like the Fiat 500 was instrumental in knitting together communities and nations and fostering a feeling of freedom of movement throughout the postwar European continent,” MoMA’s announcement explained about the museum’s choice of this model.
The addition to MoMA’s collection comes at a perfect moment in the 500’s history because it arrives 60 years after the model’s original debut in 1957. The museum purchased a gorgeous 1968 500F. This was the most popular variant of the 500, and production ran from 1965 to 1972.
"Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum,” Martino Stierli, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, said.
Giacosa started working at Fiat in 1927, and his resumé also included the original 500 Topolino that arrived in 1936 that filled a similar role for the company as the later model.
The Fiat joins some gorgeous automotive creations in MoMA’s permanent collection. The museum also owns a 1946 Cisitalia 202 GT, 1952 Jeep M38A1, 1959 Volkswagen Type 1, 1961 Jaguar E-Type Roadster, 1965 Porsche 911, 1990 Ferrari 641 Formula One car, and a 1998 Smart ForTwo.
Source: Fiat, Museum of Modern Art
Gallery: 1968 Fiat 500F Berlina for MoMA
The Fiat 500 acquired by The Museum of Modern Art in New York
The Fiat 500 becomes a work of modern art and joins the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York. (http://press.moma.org/2017/06/acquisition-fiat-500/).
An extraordinary tribute to the artistic and cultural value of the Italian style icon in the world on its 60th birthday.
The best-loved car in Fiat's history, the icon that made Italians into car-owners, and worldwide ambassador for the country, celebrates its 60th birthday today with a special event that honours its history and the style and design that made it famous across the globe. Not by chance, it is joining the permanent collection of the MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York.
"While the Fiat 500 has unquestionably left its mark on automotive history, it is equally true that it has never been just a car", said Olivier François, Head of Fiat Brand and Chief Marketing Officer FCA. "In its 60 years of history, the 500 has transcended its material manifestation to enter the collective imagination and become an icon, which has now the honour of being certified by being acquired by MoMA in a tribute to its artistic and cultural value".
"The Fiat 500 is an icon of automotive history that fundamentally altered car design and production" said Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA. "Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden the story of automotive design as told by the Museum"
The model acquired by MoMA will be a 500 F series, the most popular 500 ever, made from 1965 to 1972. Fiat's "great little car" was an instant success worldwide, and the 18 HP of its 499.5 cm3 engine gave it a top speed of 95 km/h. Over 4,000,000 units were made from 1957 to 1975. From the New 500 in the late 50s, on to the Sport and then the D, both more powerful, followed by the F, which holds the record for the number produced, through to the more comfortable L, and finally the R.
The Fiat 500 is not just a symbol of mass car ownership. Over time, it has become a style and design icon. Unmistakable design has inspired the imagination of artists, who have responded with elegant, exclusive and sporty interpretations. It has achieved the feat of maintaining its identity while remaining youthful over 60 years of history and lifestyles, fashion and society. A successful car, but also a cultural phenomenon in centre stage for 60 years, never going out of fashion. With the launch of the new generation in 2007, the 500 appeared in a variety of original and cool interpretations, both hatchback and convertible, with an array of extraordinarily successful special editions (such as the 500 by Diesel, the 500 Gucci and the 500 Riva).
Success is reasserted by numbers: the Fiat 500 is the best-seller in Europe, ranking first in eight countries and among the first three in six others. The 2007 version won over 2,000,000 motorists in just 10 years and has reaped accolade after accolade since its debut, including Car of the Year and the Compasso d'oro design award.
The 500 is the symbol of Italian creativity which has always inspired artists and designers worldwide becoming an icon of beauty and art. Today, it makes another step forward becoming a work of art in its own right by the side of the other great icons of Italian design and yet again remaining "Forever Young".
Happy Birthday 500!
THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART ACQUIRES AN ORIGINAL-CONDITION
1968 FIAT 500
NEW YORK, July 3, 2017—The Museum of Modern Art has acquired an original model of the
Fiat 500F “Berlina,” commonly referred to as the Cinquecento. The most popular version of
the 500—which was in production from 1965 through 1972—the Berlina exemplifies a clear
expression of form following function, a logical and economical use of materials, and a belief
that quality design should be accessible to all. The development of inexpensive, reliable cars
like the Fiat 500 was instrumental in knitting together communities and nations and fostering
a feeling of freedom of movement throughout the postwar European continent. Through its
design and its centrality to the story of mid-century Italy, the 500 embodies many of the
principles that typified mid-century modernist design and connects it to themes explored in
works throughout the Museum’s collection.
“The Fiat 500 is an icon of automotive history that fundamentally altered car design and
production,” said Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design
at MoMA. “Adding this unpretentious masterpiece to our collection will allow us to broaden
the story of automotive design as told by the Museum.”
“While the Fiat 500 has unquestionably left its mark on automotive history, it is equally true
that it has never been just a car,” said Olivier François, Head of Fiat Brand and Chief Marketing
Officer, FCA Group. “In its 60 years of history, the 500 has transcended material
manifestation to enter the collective imagination and become an icon, which has now the
honor of being certified by being acquired by MoMA in a tribute to artistic and cultural value.”
Commonly referred to as the Cinquecento, the Nuova 500 was designed by designer and
engineer Dante Giacosa and launched in 1957. Giacosa, who joined Fiat in 1927, was
responsible for many of the most important designs to emerge from the automaker during his
43-year career, including the original 500 “Topolino” and the later 500 “Nuova.” A compact,
rear-engine city car, the 500 was conceived as an economical car for the masses. Despite its
small exterior dimensions, Giacosa’s design maximized interior volume, resulting in a
surprisingly spacious interior that could accommodate four passengers. The standard-feature
foldable fabric roof imbued this economy car with a sense of luxury while simultaneously
reducing the amount of steel—a precious commodity at the time—necessary for production of
the car. In 1965 it was slightly redesigned, resulting in the discontinuation of the rear-hinged
“suicide doors” that marked the earlier production. An original-condition model of this
version, the 500F Berlina, has entered into MoMA’s collection.
MoMA has a rich history of collecting and displaying automobiles, with seven cars already in
its collection, including a Cisitalia 202 GT Car (1946), a Jeep Truck: Utility 1/4 Ton 4 x 4
(M38A1) (1952), a Volkswagen Type 1 Sedan (1959), a Jaguar E-Type Roadster (1961), a
Ferrari Formula 1 Racing Car (641/2) (1990), a Smart Car “Smart & Pulse” Coupé (1998), and
a recently acquired Porsche 911 Coupé (1965). The Museum exhibited cars as early as 1951
and has since mounted eight exhibitions dedicated solely to automobiles, including 8
Automobiles (1951), Ten Automobiles (1953), The Racing Car: Toward A Rational Automobile
(1966), The Taxi Project: A Realistic Solution for Today (1976), Designed for Speed: Three
Automobiles by Ferrari (1993), Refining the Sports Car: Jaguar’s E-Type (1996), Different
Roads: Automobiles for the Next Century (1999), and AUTObodies: speed, sport, transport
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) designs, engineers, manufactures and sells vehicles and
related parts and services, components and production systems worldwide through 162
manufacturing facilities, 87 R&D centers, and dealers and distributors in more than 140
countries.The Group’s automotive brands are: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat
Professional, Jeep, Lancia, Ram, SRT, Maserati and Mopar, the parts and service brand. The
Group’s businesses also include Comau (production systems), Magneti Marelli (components)
and Teksid (iron and castings). In addition, the Group provides retail and dealer finance,
leasing and rental services in support of the car business through subsidiaries, joint ventures
and commercial agreements with specialized financing services providers.