Meet the designer who turns squashed Fiats into works of art

Israeli-born artist, designer and architect Ron Arad is best known for his industrial-themed installations made from all manner of bashed, smashed and welded metal.

For his latest solo exhibition, In Reverse, he’s taken things one step further with a series of original Fiat 500 cars that have been pounded flat courtesy of a 500-tonne mechanical press.

Fascinated with the Fiat 500

Arad doesn’t necessarily consider himself a petrolhead, but noted that he first became fascinated with the Fiat 500 when he was living in Rome some 35 years ago.

He acquired his first serendipitously when stopped at a red light in a taxi. Noticing a man in a Fiat 500 pulling up beside him, he opened the door and simply asked the driver whether or not he would sell it.

According to Arad, the car was his the very next day, and served as his family car – and as a shelter for a local homeless man, he discovered later – before eventually meeting its fate.

“The car is a national symbol for Italy and our generation, and it’s a very endearing vehicle,” he said. “Every day I’d look at it. I would say, ‘One day you’ll become art.’ We’re not destroying the cars, we’re immortalising them.”

Arad’s method of ‘immortalising’ the cars is by crushing each one with a 500-tonne industrial press to form what he calls ‘Pressed Flowers’, which he then hangs on the walls as part of his exhibition.

Surprisingly appealing 

While the flattened Fiats might read as a little crude to some, and downright vulgar to others, the artist says that their surprisingly appealing forms are actually the result of extensive experimentation.

Arad became interested in the way automobiles behave under compression by first tinkering with toy cars in his studio, before realising that the same effect on a larger scale would be hard work.

While Arad’s work isn’t the first use of crushed cars as art –sculptors César Baldaccini and John Chamberlain produced cubed cars in the 1960s – he says that his sculptures go one step further.

He said: “Their work stopped being cars. They used cars as a source of raw materials to make sculptures out of. The idea here is to allow them to stay cars, yet show them from a new perspective.”

While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you buy one just to crush it, the latest generation Fiat 500 is available to buy from Perrys Fiat dealerships now, with prices starting from £14,595.