Museum Masterpieces Ride On as Bicycles

Museum Masterpieces Ride On as Bicycles
Arts & Culture

The art bikes as designed by Handsome Cycles celebrate a major Minneapolis Institute of Arts anniversary

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 3 august 2015

The bicycle has been called one of the most significant objects ever designed. The combination of circles, triangles and lines has inspired artists and designers to incorporate bikes into a regalia of 2D and 3D artwork. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts wanted to do something unique as part of their 100 year anniversary celebration in 2015. They approached local bicycle builder Handsome Cycles with an idea to create three custom bicycles inspired by masterpieces in their permanent collection.

The bikes were meant to show work from historic artists in a modern context.

Handsome reached out to prominent Twin Cities artisans and designers KNOCK, TREAT AND COMPANY, Peacock Groove, and Dirt Design Graphics to assist with the project.

Each of the three bikes are fully functional and ridable. Although, like with BMW’s art car series, the custom paint and details on these one-of-one machines make them a bit more fragile. A commemorative MIA 100 year anniversary bike is within reach though. Handsome has produced a limited edition bike for women and men that doesn’t actually cost museum artwork prices.

Handsome gives PSFK their own takes on each design item.




#1: Hans Ledwinka, Tatra T-87 Four-Door Sedan, 1948 (designed 1936)
For this piece, we set out to capture the curvature and finish of this iconic feat of design. The sweeping circular lines and smooth polished finish of the body were captured with the full rear fender and skirt as well as the sweeping drop bars. We paid homage to the striking front lights on the car and the innovation in design and technology employed by Ledwinka, by including a front hub dynamo powered classic front light. And finally it was finished off with a honey saddle and bar tape to match the cars striking interior.




#2: Claude Monet’s Grainstack, Sun in the Mist (1891)
Capturing the delicate touch and intricacy in Monet’s Grainstack painting was quite the challenge. We wanted to let the paint speak for itself in this piece. Our painter (Dirt Designs Graphics – MN), used multiple layers and a precision hand to execute the complicated finish of this bike. The rest of the bike is kept intentionally simplistic to highlight the complexity of the paint, while only adding elements that enhance it’s rural and natural feel. “A masterwork of our collection; the Grainstacks represented France’s rural prosperity and can be seen to connect nicely with our MN heartland farming roots.”




#3: 1969 Frank Stella, Tahkt-i-Sulayman, Variation II
Playing with color, lines and circles is fun. For this piece, based on Frank Stella’s Tahkt-i-Sulayman, Variation II, we looked to capture the essence of the painting in his simplistic approach, ‘What you see is what you get.’ This bike is all out there in full detail with nothing to hide. This was visually the most ‘fun’ piece of the three.

If you would like a quick art lesson, the MIA has provided this: Part of a series he painted based on a protractor, each was named after circular cities and architectural sites he visited in the Middle East in the 60s. Tahkt-i-Sulayman is an ancient shrine in Azerbaijan, Iran.

Stella says meaning of his work is purely formal: “My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object…. You can see the whole idea without any confusion. What you see is what you see.”

Handsome Cycles | Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Photos and Descriptions: Handsome Cycles

+fitness / sport
+Handsome Cycles
+middle east
+Minneapolis Institute of Arts

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