16-ton ‘Autoeater’ sculpture installed in Midtown

Artists Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle with their work, Autoeater, in Midtown. (Photos courtesy Midtown Alliance)

The new sculpture that replaced the Rockspinner at the intersection of Peachtree and 10th streets in the heart of Midtown has many folks scratching their heads. Some ideas from social media: a car in a condom, a space slug from “Star Wars,” the graboid from the monster movie “Tremors” and a thoughtful meditation on the city’s traffic.

The 16-ton Carrara marble sculpture, “Autoeater,” depicts a Fiat Panda being devoured by some kind of worm-like shape. According to media release by the Midtown Alliance, the sculpture “invites comment on Atlanta’s relationship with the automobile in the context of one of the city’s most walkable urban districts.”

Members of Midtown Alliance’s public art committee helped review the proposals and selected the “Autoeater,” created by German artists Venske & Spänle. The artists began collaborating in 1991, and have developed a reputation for their enigmatic marble sculptures, which have been shown in museums, galleries, art fairs and public art projects worldwide on five continents.  In Atlanta, they are represented by Marcia Wood Gallery.

“The world-class reputation of the artists and the craftsmanship of this piece reinforce Midtown’s commitment to high-caliber public art,” said Ginny Kennedy, Midtown Alliance Director of Urban Design. “The playful and unorthodox form of this sculpture will engage the public and spark interaction at one of Midtown’s most prominent intersections.”

The piece was shipped to Midtown from a marble quarry in northern Italy, near Tuscany. The marble comes from the same quarry that was a meeting place for major artists from the 50s and 60s such as Henry Moore, Hans Arp, Joan Miro, and, notably, Isamo Noguchi, the artist who designed the modernist playscape in Piedmont Park in 1976.

The smooth marble form of the base is juxtaposed with the machine-made body of the Fiat Panda, a popular mass-produced Italian automobile from the 1980s. The Panda was designed as a cheap, easy to operate, no-frills utility vehicle for city driving. The three-door model, with a two-cylinder engine, epitomized practicality. Driving a Panda was part of an alternative lifestyle in the youth of the artists, according to the media release.

The sculpture will be on display for three years.

German culture institute Goethe-Centrum Atlanta will host an event on Wednesday, July 5, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. featuring a short presentation from Venske & Spänle to discuss the creative process and development of “Autoeater. The public is invited to attend and can RSVP at www.Goethe.de/Atlanta.

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