A few years ago, Brooklyn artist Jonathan Brand sold a 1969 Ford Mustang he rebuilt with his father to pay for an engagement ring. In his latest work, entitled "One Piece at a Time," he's reconstructed that Mustang, piece by piece, at 1:1 scale, using nothing but paper.
The show's title is a nod to the Johnny Cash song about a Detroit assembly line worker who dreams of someday owning one of the Cadillacs he builds. The line worker "appropriates" a car one piece at a time, stashing stolen parts in his lunch box every day to bring home and reassemble.
Brand tells us that the American automobile has played a large part in his personal life and his art. His website tells us that his grandfather was a millwright who installed the Detroit assembly lines referred to in Cash's song. His uncle and cousins are mechanics. He has restored three vintage cars with his father.
One of those cars, a 1969 Mustang, took him five years to rebuild and has been the inspiration for several of his bodies of work. Below is a photo of the Mustang that he used as a basis for his work.
Brand sold the Mustang to buy his fiancee a diamond engagement ring in an exchange that inspired one of his previous exhibitions. Now he's getting it back by rebuilding it from scratch and with a very unlikely medium.
The press release for the art gallery tells us that he used digital drawings as his source, with Brand printing the blueprints with a large-format inkjet printer. Brand then meticulously cut out and folded the components to create spark plugs, nuts and bolts, a radiator, and even the individual tires — complete with life-like treads.
Here's what Brand told us exclusively about what we should expect when we're given an exclusive look at the finished exhibit tomorrow morning here at the Hosfelt Gallery in New York City:
The car is being shown in a slightly unfinished state. I have been working on it for 2 years which includes drawing the car and parts in 3D on my computer as well as the printing, cutting and folding. I drew everything; undercarriage, brakes, suspension etc, but realized that to make all the internal mechanicals this could become a life-long project so chose to focus on the more visible and personally significant pieces. I haven't ruled out making the missing pieces but this project is more about my experience and connection with the original car rather than a complete diagrammatical inventory of a 1969 Mustang. Also the details of the car are based more on my memory of the details. I no longer have access to the car and chose not to use a surrogate to measure. I like when things are slightly wrong, just like my memories can be slightly off.
This is my first time working with these materials. One thing that is important to me as an artist is to always use new materials. I learn something new with every project and rarely repeat it. As far as making a statement, I have been overwhelmed by the online reaction to this work and it's really great to connect with such a wide range of people.
My intention with creating existing objects is to reclaim things that are lost for myself and create new experiences out of my past. The original car didn't run, I never drove this one. Its body and interior were refinished but not its mechanicals. We restored 2 others that were complete restorations but this one was never finished so in a way the paper version is just as complete as the original.
Judging by these first, amazing images, we can't wait to see it in person tomorrow.