I put that “Number One” in the headline there in an act of optimism, suggesting that I may somehow remember to do this little sub-series inside the series that is whatever Cold Start is, starting your day every glorious morning. I didn’t actually plan this, it’s just something that struck me on a gut level, visually, when I looked at this 1949 Studebaker truck brochure and something about the colors, shapes, and general visual tone that reminded me of a very specific painter: Thomas Hart Benton.
This is Noon, a 1939 Benton painting from the collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and I hope you can see the resemblance I’m talking about. There’s something about the warm color palette, and the way that Benton always seemed to render everything in a sort of rubbery, rounded way that I think meshes well with the overstuffed sofa-like lines of late ’40s automotive design.
There is, of course, a strong thematic and cultural link as well, as it would be incredibly easy to imagine that truck hanging out in the background of that undulating farmscape.
Did you know Thomas Hart Benton taught Jackson Pollack? Look at some of Pollack’s pre-action painting works and you’ll see the resemblance.
This Studebaker truck also got me wondering about what the longest automaker name that’s been on a truck tailgate might be. Studebaker is pretty long at 10 letters, but it’s matched by Volkswagen. The winner seems to be International, which clocks in at 13 letters! I can’t think of a longer name that may have been on a tailgate, but as soon as I say things like that, usually some commenter will find something to prove that wrong.
I guess we’ll find out!