Thursday, November 30, 2023

Artist of the Day, November 30, 2023: Edward T. Welburn, an American automobile designer (#1971)

Edward T. Welburn (1950) is an automobile designer and former General Motors' Vice President of Global Design, a role in which he served from 2003 to 2016 and the same position that Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell once held. To date, Welburn still holds the distinction of having been the highest-ranking Black-American in the global automotive industry. He has overseen the development of recent GM products, such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Camaro. Welburn has overseen groundbreaking concepts such as:the Oldsmobile Aerotech, Cadillac Ciel, and Buick Avista.

Welburn was also the lead GM designer on the Chaparral 2X Vision GT, a concept car designed for the video game Gran Turismo 6. The car features 4-wheel steer and active aerodynamics, claimed to be similar to a wingsuit, and was made available in December 2014.

Welburn studied design, sculpture, and painting at Howard University’s School of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. He communicated with General Motors during his years at Howard, which led to an internship at GM Design after his junior year in 1971. He earned his bachelor's degree from Howard in 1972 and was invited to return to his alma mater on May 7, 2016 to give a commencement speech to graduates of the College of Fine Arts.

Welburn's first peek behind the curtain of General Motors Design was during his college internship in 1971. One year later, he became the first Black American hired to design GM vehicles. He spent his entire design career at GM, where he worked in a variety of studios on a diverse list of vehicles, and he became the highest-ranking Black American in the automotive industry as the first-ever Vice President, GM Global Design.

His designs have set records for speed on racetracks and sales in the marketplace. Among many other notable vehicles, he designed multiple pace cars for the Indianapolis 500, and led the design of the presidential limo, commonly known as 'The Beast', for both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

As the leader of GM Global Design, Welburn traveled the world attending auto shows and visiting his eleven design studios in seven countries, averaging 140,000 air miles each year.

Throughout his career, Welburn recognized a connection between fashion and automobile design. This kinship brought him to spearhead the creation of three automotive fashion shows; two in Detroit, and a third in Dubai. In these shows, GM's latest concept cars rolled down the runway alongside Hollywood and music industry celebrities wearing the latest fashions.

On April 7, 2016, he announced his retirement from General Motors after 44 years, effective July 1, 2016. He was succeeded by Michael Simcoe from GM Australia Design.

After announcing his retirement, he launched The Welburn Group, a design consultancy.

Welburn continues to advise GM Design on the development of their new design facility in Warren, MI.

Welburn has enjoyed a long relationship with the film industry, with the goal being to ensure GM products are placed in key roles in feature films. He notes his relationship with director Michael Bay, Paramount Pictures, and The Transformers movies featuring the Bumblebee Camaro as having been the most satisfying. His work on this modern-day film franchise led to a speaking role in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

He has also appeared on several automotive TV programs, including AmeriCarna, Jay Leno's Garage, and the automotive reality series Motor City Masters, where his weekly role was that of the authority on design and brands.

In 2019, Ed founded Welburn Media Productions is currently serving as the executive producer of a major motion picture currently under development.

Welburn serves an active role as a judge of classic cars at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance, and The Peninsula Classic.

He also serves on the Board of Directors for the College for Creative Studies, America On Wheels, LeMay - America's Car Museum, and Tony Bennett’s Exploring the Arts.

In 2016, Welburn designed the new trophy for the North American Car of the Year award, which is on permanent display in the atrium of TCF Center in Detroit.

When Ed Welburn retires from his post as General Motors' global design chief this July, he'll be leaving behind a 44-year legacy that cuts right through the most turbulent era in GM's long history. There was the culling of the Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Saturn brands; bankruptcy and a federal bailout; the 1973 energy crisis that flipped the American auto industry upside down and heralded the rise of fierce Japanese competition.

Basically, Welburn had an interesting career (to put it mildly). But his successor — 33-year GM vet Michael Simcoe — is likely in for an even more interesting run. Automakers of all sizes have started tripping over themselves in a bid to reinvent their businesses as quickly as possible, preparing for a world where we live in carless megacities interconnected by vehicles that have no drivers. Gasoline has started giving way to battery packs. Silicon Valley versus Detroit has overshadowed GM versus Ford. The challenges are very different — and arguably, more hostile to legacy automakers like GM — than the ones Welburn dealt with at the drafting table inside Buick's design studio circa 1973.

"Everyone's talking about autonomous vehicles, and it's still a few years away. There's a lot of work to do between now and then," he says. "It depends on what level of autonomous technology the vehicle has, but the driver of the car will bring about a very different way of thinking about an automobile. That change will then have an influence on other vehicles that may not be autonomous at all."

But even though he asserts that working well with engineering is critical, Welburn doesn't believe that GM's technology (or any automaker's technology) is the great differentiator — even in the age of autonomy and the connected car. "At the end of the day, no company is going to have a huge technology advantage over everyone else for long. They will for a while, but not for long. Design will still be the great differentiator in the marketplace," he says. (I'd be willing to bet there are a few technologists inside GM who don't see eye-to-eye with him on that.)

© 2023. All content on this blog is protected by international copyright laws All images are copyrighted © by Edward T. Welburn, The Welburn Group or assignee. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, the use of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained. All images used for illustrative purposes only.

Edward T. Welburn
Summer student intern program design development, Ed Welburn
1957, Corvette

1987, Welburn with Oldsmobile Aerotech Concept
1987, Oldsmobile Aerotech concept
1987, Oldsmobile Aerotech concept
2007, Hummer H3 Open Top Concept
2007 Opel Flextreme Concept
2006, Chevrolet Camaro concept
2009, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray concept
2009, Cadillac Aera Concept
2009, Cadillac Aera Concept
2008, GMC Denali XT Concept
2008, GMC Denali XT Concept

2007, Chevrolet Beat Groove Trax Concept
2010, Transformer 3 Corvette
2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept
2011 Cadillac Ciel Concept
2011, Buick Envision Concept
2011, Opel RAK e Concept
2013, Opel Monza Concept
2014, Chaparral 2X Vision GT concept
2014, Chaparral 2X Vision GT concept
2015, Chevrolet FNR Concept
2015, Chevrolet FNR Concept
Buick Avista Concept
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Chevrolet SSR
GM Hy-Wire Concept
Pontiac Solstice Coupe

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Artist of the Day, November 29, 2023: Sylvie Fleury, a Swiss contemporary installations, sculpture, and mixed media artist- Pop art (#1970)

Sylvie Fleury (1961) is a Swiss contemporary pop artist known for her installations, sculpture, and mixed media. Her work generally depicts objects with sentimental and aesthetic attachments in consumer culture, as well as the paradigm of the new age, with much of her work specifically addressing issues of gendered consumption and the fetishistic relationships to consumer objects and art history.

Sylvie Fleury was born in Geneva, Switzerland. After her initial schooling, her parents sent her to New York City to work as an au pair. She ended up falling in with a group of NYU students working on short art films. She then went on to study photography at the Germain School of Photography in 1981. While living in New York she worked as an assistant for fashion photographer Richard Avedon for one day.

Fleury then travelled onto India where she encountered learned Bharatanatyam dance, she returned to Geneva and worked for the Red Cross. Under the pseudonym of Silda Brown, she began to collect items marked with a red cross. She converted her apartment into a dentist's cabinet because she was able to acquire a practice facility at a reasonable price. In 1990 she met the Swiss performance artist John Armleder from Geneva and became his assistant. In the same year she and Armleder moved to Villa Magica, a large old town house on the outskirts of Geneva.

In 2004 Fleury and Armleder and his son founded the Geneva Record Label Villa Magica Records. The label also published CDs and LPs from John Armleder and Sylvie Fleury, from Rockenschaub and John B. Rambo.

Fleury's first show was at Rivolta Gallery in Lausanne in 1990 alongside Olivier Mosett and John Armleder. Through that show she met Eric Troncy and was invited to be a part of his seminal 1991 exhibition No Man's Time at the Villa Arson in Nice, France.

In 1993 Fleury participated in the curated portion of the 45th Venice Biennale. In the roaming section curated by Benjamin Weil, she had 3 models walking throughout Venice wearing reproductions of Yves Saint Laurent's Piet Mondrian dress.

Critics have labeled her work "post-appropriationist", and her books The Art of Survival, First Spaceship on Venus and Other Vehicles, and Parkett #58 (with Jason Rhoades and James Rosenquist), have been featured internationally. In 2015, she won the Prix de la Société des arts de Genève.

Fleury's work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, and the ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe.

© 2023. All content on this blog is protected by international copyright laws All images are copyrighted © by Sylvie Fleury or assignee. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, the use of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained. All images used for illustrative purposes only

MS. Sylvie Fleury
Turn me on, 2023
Installation view
Turn me on, 2023
Installation view
Turn me on, 2023
Installation view
Turn me on, 2023
Installation view
 Treasurer, 2023
 Don't Be Mean, 2023
 Shoplifters from Venus, 2022
 Double Positive, 2022
Let me do it Bob, 2021
 Kunsthaus, 2021
Installation view,  Zurich
 Chanel Yeti Boots (Pink Edition), 2019
André et Robert (dark red-green), 2019
 first spaceship on Venus, 2015
 Color Lab Free srudy with White peacock, 2012
Giulietta, 2010
 The Eternal Wow on Shelves (gold), 2008
Mushroom Autowave Rich-Gold Petzold silber F14, 2008
 Judd (One shelf version), 2008
 High heels on the moon, 2005 Installation view
  Vasarely, 2005
 Prada Boots, 2003
 Gucci Gold leather Handcuff (Green), 2003
 Gold fountain PKW, 2003
Razor Blades, 2001
 Evian, 1998
 Patrick & Piet & Kenneth (II), 1996
First Spaceships on Venus, 1996
 Untitled (Soft Rocket) 1995
 First Spaceship on Venus, 1995
First Spaceship on Venus (3), 1994
 Cuddly Painting, 1993