<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-PTT6ZS" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> Whitney Museum of American Art: H.C. Westermann: Antimobile
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Artist

H.C. Westermann (1922-1981)

Title

Antimobile

Date

1966

Medium

Laminated plywood

Dimensions

Overall: 67 3/8 × 36 5/16 × 27 5/8 in. (171.1 × 92.2 × 70.2 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation, Inc. and exchange

Accession number

69.4a-b

Object Label

Flawlessly constructed of marine plywood and Douglas fir, and lacquered to a glossy finish, Antimobile is made to move: the wheel turns on an axle fashioned from a bicycle pedal with a ball-bearing mechanism. As in several other pieces of the early- to mid-1960s, H.C. Westermann here treats wood laminates as if they were softly pliable elastic. But everything else about this floor-bound sculpture—from its name to its drooping contours—suggests immobility. With its misshapen and paralyzed steering wheel and such eccentric details as a diminutive wing-bolt crown, Antimobile conjures up a subversive, impotent machine, one that inhibits function and idolizes craft. Beyond the mordant humor that characterizes Westermann’s work is often anger at the crass commercialism he saw overtaking American culture: “everything is on wheels nowadays. . .a hundred million cars. . .and everything turns and it’s all a bunch of junk. . .I wanted to make something that was just completely anti-wheel, antimobile.” Though in scale and material Antimobile is more like a ship’s wheel than a car’s, it remains a penetrating expression of his belief that rampant industrialization had run amok in postwar American society.