Léon Bollée and C. Baldaccini César

Voiturette, 1896, Compression, 1981

Singular Art in the Arithmeum presents Mobile-Art: Art-Mobile. Cars as products of civilization meet in two unusual forms here in the Arithmeum. On the one hand, there is the Voiturette which Léon Bollée built in 1896, and on the other, the crashed Ford of C. Baldaccini César from 1981, entitled "Compression".

Léon Bollée - "Voiturette"

L"on Boll"e was a constructor of mechanical calculating machines and an inventor of cars. In the Arithmeum one can admire his calculating machine with direct multiplication and his Arithmographe, a calculating device which can also multiply. With the first of these machines, Bollée won a gold medal in the 1889 Exposition universelle in Paris. But Bollée was not only a constructor of mechanical calculating machines, he also built automobiles and was an enthusiastic racing driver.

Léon Bollée came from a family of inventors. He experimented with cars powered by internal combustion engines. One of these was his voiturette of 1896, which had room for three people and a top speed of 24 km/h in third gear, which was the top gear. That is a speed which makes us smile weakly today, but in those days this three-wheeled vehicle won many prizes. With its 2.50 m length, 1.20 m width, 650 cc engine volume and 2.5 hp performance at 800 rev/min, this little vehicle outshone nearly all its competitors. Even so, only several hundred voiturettes were produced between 1896 and 1899, three-wheeled cars with the accompanying lady sitting in front of the driver so that he could talk to her undisturbed while keeping his eyes on the road.

Today's owner of the Bollée car is Bernhard Schmidt, who still drives it in rallies, clad in historical attire with bowler hat. This technical marvel with its white tires can be viewed in the Arithmeum for the next three months.

By juxtaposing the historical Bollee vehicle and the crashed Ford, Singular Art wants to initiate an analysis of the connections between art and technology. In ancient Greece, only one term was available for both of these concepts, namely techné. At that time, the separation of art from function had not yet taken place. Today, on the other hand, one distinguishes clearly between art and technology. The latter is considered to be purely a function of rationality and the intellect, while the former is apparently determined by human feelings and is devoid of all function. One hardly ever enquires whether art today has anything to do with ability, or whether today's highly developed technology, which is exclusively the domain of ability, might not be an art form in the original sense of the word techné.

C. Baldaccini César

In contrast to the artistic, historical Bollée vehicle, the second automobile is no longer drivable. It is in fact a Ford, but is hardly recognizable as such. The artist C.B.César is well-known for his compressed automobile sculptures, which he has been creating since the 1960s.