The Motorcycle as Art: ‘Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed’


| 4/11/2017 12:00:00 AM


 

Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed. Cover courtesy Motorbooks

Visually, there has never been another book like Classic Motorcycles: The Art of Speed. An examination of 50 classic motorcycles written by motorcycle author Patrick Hahn with photography by Tom Loeser, it is without question the most arresting and innovative presentation of classic motorcycles ever produced.

The motorcycle as art has a fairly short history, its path often tracked as starting with the Guggenheim Museum’s 1998 Art of the Motorcycle installation, an exhibit viewed by more than 300,000 people, the largest in the history of the museum. The exhibit’s success rested on the careful and insightful selection of machines and their display, providing an opportunity for the public at large to examine and appreciate the motorcycle for its historical, industrial and cultural impact — and as art.

Using a technique called light painting, Loeser photographed 50 vintage motorcycles from the collection of the internationally renowned Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum in Solvang, California. The motorcycles, ranging from a 1903 Mitchell to a 1994 Britten V1000, are all historically and culturally important, whether because of innovations of style or mechanical capacity. And while Hahn’s authoritative narratives provide essential background on each motorcycle chosen, it is Loeser’s photographs that draw the reader in.



In a conventional photographic session, particularly in a studio setting, a photographer uses light boxes and reflectors to get the desired lighting effect. There are limitations to this, particularly in terms of achieving even, uniform illumination and color rendering of the subject. For his light paintings, Loeser placed each bike in a pitch-dark room. He then illuminated the subject bikes using hand-held, battery-powered lamps employing remote phosphor technology, which provides cleaner, more color-correct illumination than LED or incandescent light. Loeser set the camera on a tripod, taking a series of eight to 15 second exposures, making multiple passes with the light across the bike to literally “paint” the bike with light. These brush strokes were repeated as necessary to capture every feature of each bike, with as many as 30 passes or strokes sometimes made. The process is time-consuming and exacting: Loeser says it took 10 to 11 hours to photograph two bikes, and that was before applying himself to the task of digitally stitching the completed images together. Given the arduous process involved in making the finished images, the book’s sub-title, The Art of Speed, seems somehow ironic.



The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $4.95 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $29.95 for a one year subscription!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds