The sculpture I will discuss is "The New Beetle", priced at an
affordable $16,000, by Volkswagen (works are usually signed as "VW").
Volkswagen - New Beetle
"The New Beetle" is an open air installation that can freely be moved
around, and even includes special machinery to do so. We can find it
exhibited on city streets. The total sculpture measures a lofty 96
cubic feet. (The dashboard is 54 inches wide, the glove box 450 square
inches, the front seats 31 inches, front legroom 39.4 inches, front
headroom 41.3 inches, back legroom 33.5 inches, back-seat 51.5 inches,
trunk 12 cubic feet, and the trunk with seats down is 18.1 cubic
What we are presented with is, on the surface, a postmodern symbiosis
of organic forms and cold steel. A striking yellow surface reflecting
the sky, a dome-like flash of emotion. The truly living fusion of size
and color is well-balanced throughout. There is a spacious hollow
interior, with transparent glass rectangles opening the view. These
"windows" can be shifted, moved, touched, as can the door-shaped
openings. The whole sculpture is lifted up by four black circular
shapes built into the bottom, a fresh approach playfully questioning
art world traditions. We cannot help but being reminded of critic
Leslie Hoffman's words on Cheryl Capezzuti: "Soft, fuzzy lint and
hard, metal electrical parts might not have much in common, but they
do when they both carry the weight of a story-laden history."
Inside out, or outside in, the artist is asking us, provoking,
tempting. The experience continues as we enter the interior. Freudian
instincts may drive us to return to the safety of a woman's womb --
however this safety is deceiving; the installation comes with
instructions, locks, keys, safety measurements, an ironic wink at
civilizations burden of primal fear. Added to that, the artist repeats
motifs of two big eyes on the outside, memorable evidence of the
kafkaesque, animalistic side-effects of modernization.
We walk around the sculpture, walk inside, move, push, and try to
understand it, or better yet, feel it. The basic concept is ever so
obvious, simple and impressing at the same time. "Thinking round"
Volkswagen says, and points out to us the shape is based on and
inspired by the Roman arch design, giving strength and structural
integrity to the aqueducts in 145 BC. The idea is strong, circular
curves, swiftly contrasted by some of the inside details. Proudly
molded into space, adapting to the environment, merging space and time
with refreshing integrity.
It is "round for a reason", as Volkswagen boldly states? Do works of
art need reason to justify their existence? Must art be useful? Is
there a message, a purpose, a use -- indeed, can this sculpture be
"used"? Brought into life by an artist, sculptor, craftsman, or
mechanic? What of its elements are inherent solely to its artistic
From a utilitarian stand-point, one is inclined to say the level of
redundancy in this work is quite low. However, as Volkswagen adds, the
"circular shape of the dome allows for maximum volume within a minimum
amount of space. Therefore a dome-shaped arena can hold more people in
a smaller arena than a typical rectangular structure ever could." In
this context we must again stress the 12 cubic feet of cargo area in
use, as well as Turbo Diesel and 4-cylinder. As Hoffman puts it,
Volkswagen managed to "couple accessibility with intelligence". And as
art critic Janaki Ranpura so rightly adds, one "feels like a guest
among artwork rather than a divorced observer".
I hope this helps!