[Update] Meet ‘Autoeater,’ The Replacement For Midtown’s Spinning Rock

The 16-ton marble sculpture doesn't spin.

The 16-ton marble sculpture doesn’t spin.

A sculpture early Friday emerged of what seemed like a white pick-up truck being swallowed whole by a Jabba-The-Hutt-looking slab of marble.

Sign up now to get our Daily Breaking News Alerts

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Opt out at anytime

Midtown Alliance, the organization responsible for the installation, answered our head-scratching questions shortly after.

It’s called Autoeater, a 16-ton Carrara marble structure devouring a Fiat Panda, a mass-produced Italian automobile from the 1980s.

“The sculpture invites comment on Atlanta’s relationship with the automobile in the context of one of the city’s most walkable urban districts,” a company spokesperson in an email Friday told What Now Atlanta.

In late-2016, the organization issued a request for proposals from local, national and international artists for a new piece of temporary art at the corner of 10th and Peachtree Street to succeed the Rockspinner, a 22,000 lb. granite boulder mounted on a rotating base.

Members of Midtown Alliance’s public art committee helped review the proposals and selected the Autoeater, created by German artists Venske & Spänle. The artists began collaborating in 1991. In Atlanta, they are represented by Marcia Wood Gallery.

“The world-class reputation of the artists and the craftsmanship of this piece reinforce Midtown’s commitment to high-caliber public art,” Ginny Kennedy, Midtown Alliance Director of Urban Design, said in an announcement.

“The playful and unorthodox form of this sculpture will engage the public and spark interaction at one of Midtown’s most prominent intersections.”

The piece was shipped to Midtown from a marble quarry in northern Italy, near Tuscany. The marble comes from the same quarry that was a meeting place for major artists from the 50s and 60s such as Henry Moore, Hans Arp, Joan Miro, and, notably, Isamo Noguchi, the artist who designed the modernist playscape in Piedmont Park in 1976.

The smooth marble form of the base is juxtaposed with the machine-made body of the Fiat Panda. Introduced abroad in 1980, the Panda was designed as a cheap, easy to operate, no-frills utility vehicle for city driving. The three-door model, with a two-cylinder engine, epitomized practicality. As the Italian counterpart to the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, the Panda is one of the most popular cars in automobile history. Driving a Panda was part of an alternative lifestyle in the youth of the artists, now long past.

Autoeater was brokered for Midtown Alliance by Marcia Wood Gallery and will be on display in Midtown for a three-year term.

The installation sits on property owned by the Dewberry Capital Corporation, which leases the temporary park space at 10th and Peachtree Street to Midtown Alliance for $1 per year.

Midtown Alliance is a coalition of business and civic leaders working to create an exceptional urban experience in Atlanta’s Midtown district, including everything from small street-level activation projects to large-scale transportation enhancements.

Autoeater 2
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Gmail
Photo: Midtown Alliance
Autoeater 1
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Gmail
Photo: Midtown Alliance
Autoeater 3
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Gmail
Photo: Midtown Alliance
Autoeater 4
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Gmail
Photo: Midtown Alliance
    • I work for Midtown Alliance and helped get this story published. Residential taxpayers did not fund this project. In fact, no residential taxpayer dollars are present in any of the work we do. Here’s a link to the $9 million in capital improvement projects we’re working on this year to improve Midtown’s transportation network: https://www.midtownatl2016.com/public-improvement/

      Lots of opportunities to connect the dots between this new public art project and the work we do every day in partnership with the City of Atlanta to improve transportation in Midtown. Consider reading this summary to get a sense of our present-day work and future plans related to transportation: https://www.midtownatl2016.com/transportation/

    • Are you familiar with Midtown Alliance’s Traffic Operations Program that has now existed for four years to repair and improve traffic signals in Midtown at 100+ intersections? Here’s a link: http://www.midtownatl.com/about/midtown-blog/1m-of-signal-improvements-underway-in-year-four-of-midtown-traffic-operations-program

      We cover this program regularly in our e-newsletter. Recently added leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) to signals on Peachtree St. to improve conditions for people walking and give them a brief headstart in the crosswalk before turning cars enter. And our Comprehensive Transportation Plan, released earlier this year and informed by thousands of Midtown residents/workers, identified two dozen priority intersections where no signals exist today but are badly needed. We’re working w/ ATL City Council to get funding commitments for these additional traffic signals.

  • It takes some getting used to but it’s kind of weird and cool. It certainly is eye catching and will generate discussions so in that sense, it’s great. There’s a paucity of public art in this city so I’m supportive. As for those asking for better roads and lights, a) Midtown Alliance paid for it, b) there’s more to life than driving your stupid car. Art is just as important as these mundane, utilitarian concerns you have. People from Atlanta travel all over the world to see great public art in Buenos Aires, Paris, Istanbul, and London then whine when there’s. One here at home. And before you tell me that the Autoeater isn’t art please remember it’s all in the eye of the beholder:)

  • I get the concept and appreciate it. But this is a junked car, something I want to see less of, not more. Design codes would (thankfully) prevent Midtown businesses from “installing” a junked car out front, so why is it acceptable for Midtown Alliance? This neighborhood is rich with artists and art collectors; why not involve them? Have you met the people at Midtown Alliance? Smart and well meaning, yes. Chic arbiters of style, in my opinion, no.

  • This is an interesting and exciting piece of art by two highly respected international artists. We are lucky to have it here and the Alliance is to be congratulated for supporting innovative and interesting work for what is otherwise an empty corner lot. Viewed it this morning and the marble is exquisite. The junk car surrounded by beautiful marble is a great allegory for Atlanta – a beautiful city marred by cars.

  • It just feels wrong for that corner. I get that all art doesn’t have to be beautiful, but this feels misplaced & looks like a scene out of a junk yard.
    Midtown deserves better.

  • “Look over there, Ed, it’s a giant condom with an old junk car sticking out of it.”
    “Yep…makes me proud to be an Atlantan……say, Bob, have you seen the Big Chicken up on 41 in Marietta ?” “Why certainly,….it’s “art” like the Chicken and the Condom that makes this region the cultural capital that it is.”

  • If the anecdotal evidence from here and those of us around Midtown is to be believed the feedback is overwhelmingly negative. We went from a work of art that was interactive and fun to one that is mono-tone and staid. Why this was selected for a vibrant corner is beyond me. The front of it is trite and the back looks like a junked underside of a car. And for 3 years?!! Ouch.

  • I am an artist. I love all kinds of art. This is not art. This is horrible and an eyesore. I will say this crap piece gets people talking. “Hey, did you see the new crap art? What is it? A catfish swallowing a car?” I guess it does bring the community together. Talking about how bad this poo is. gross!!!!

  • Related Posts

    >

    Sign up now to get our Daily Breaking News Alerts

    Be the first to know. Sign-up to get our breaking news alerts delivered straight to your inbox. Go ahead. It's absolutely free!