Scharf certainly was an early promoter. The display at the DIA was the relentless pursuit by Bob Edwards, to establish that auto design belongs in an art museum. Especially in Detroit, the motor capital of the world! You might also mention the numerous retired auto designers, that assisted in the procurement and selection of said art. There was also the League of Retired Auto Designers and several ad hoc informal coffee groups, too that have contributed art and volunteers.
Great article. I need to check out these books! By the way, the website for the exhibit, Detroit Style: Car Design in the Motor City, 1950–2020, at the Detroit Institute of Arts now says Sun, Nov 15, 2020 - Sun, Jan 9, 2022.
A nice article, and some great art, but I'm not sure I agree with the premise that no one understood the value of automotive sketches in the "outside world". Way back in the pre-Cambrian era of the '60's and '70's, I remember Automobile Quarterly running articles filled with styling sketches from design houses. And the Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa had all sorts of sketches and automotive art on the walls. ('though this was, admittedly, a temple of car-craziness!)
Thinking forward, digitally, there might/must? be as much future-art design work going on with in-house (and of course boutique) designers in the automotive world NOW. I hope, with the fleeting existence of electrons and the proprietary software it may take to generate the images, there are those in the Know that are preserving this new history as well? Superb article about a guy-I-never-knew-of. Thank you Mr. Sharf - and author Shreiber!
LOVE concept car art! I just dislike it when they (...***cough*** GM....) show a prototype car and insist that "This IS what it's going to look like!!!" and when it arrives in showrooms it's drastically changed. Chrysler went through the same thing though in the 90's.... Remember the "Atlantic" or the "Copperhead" that never materialized? Both would have been outstanding and original looking cars in our driveway. You have to laugh at some though... The front seats would have been 14' wide, the back seat would have been 6' away from the front seat, and the razor sharp tail fins and pin point Dagmar tips would have impaled or sliced pedestrians with indifference.