The 16-ton marble sculpture doesn’t spin.
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.