We introduced you recently to the stunning artwork of Klaus Wagger, who has been tasked with designing the famous Festival of Speed posters. Inspired by this, we decided to share the artwork of another artist for whom the motor car (and bike, for that matter) is the focus of their passion.
No stranger to Goodwood, and indeed many high-profile motoring events or shows, Dan Gwinnett has become known in recent years for big portraits of famous machines and their pilots. Think Bernd Rosemeyer in the Auto Union, Louis Chiron in the Bugatti Type 35, Nuvolari in the Alfa Romeo Monza… all subjects with a powerful historic narrative. The level of detail in his work is very impressive, whether it’s the mechanical complexity of the steering and front suspension of an Auto Union, or the facial expression and unique gait of Steve McQueen, stood evocatively in front of the John Wyer Porsche 917 at Le Mans.
‘All this work comes from my father’s influence’ he tells us. ‘He always talked of Le Mans, D-Type Jaguars, Louis Chiron, Bernd Rosemeyer and such like, and we’d sometimes listen to Raymond Baxter reporting from Le Mans on the radio in his workshop. When he passed away a few years ago I thought to myself “you’ve got this in you. Come on!”‘
So Dan set about creating works the like of which you see here: Portraits of famous people and some of the cars with which they are associated. ‘It takes a great deal of research’ he explains. ‘For example, I’m working on a commission of a Le Mans Bentley and every single split pin has to be correctly rendered. Similarly, I’m working on a diptych which will be revealed at this year’s Revival of the Bentley boys outside the Le Mans pits in 1929 (where the big green cars from Cricklewood finished in first, second, third and fourth positions), with Birkin, Benjafield et al sat on the back of the rear seats of their cars which also demands a high level of historical accuracy.’
Despite this, his works can take varying amounts of time to complete. ‘The Nuvolari Alfa Romeo took days, whereas the Bentley with Tim Birkin and Ralph Lauren (the car’s current owner) took about three months! In fact, I’d say that the Alfa Romeo is probably my favourite. It expresses the most about where I’m coming from.’
A touching tribute to former MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli reflects both Dan and his father’s passion for two wheels as well as four, even though his mother forbid Dan from acquiring a motorcycle. ‘I still managed to hide away a BSA, though!’ he admits. Despite being the only modern motorbike in the portfolio, the odd-one-out here is the evocative painting of Jane Fonda and Alain Delon in the Ferrari 250 ‘California‘ at about the time the pair were shooting Les Felins in Antibes in 1964. Keen petrolheads will recognise this as the very same Ferrari sold by Artcurial at Retromobile earlier this year. Gorgeous isn’t it? Monsieur Delon’s expression suggesting that Miss Fonda stop posing for photographs and get back in the car …
Those of you coming to the Revival this year will be treated to the first reveal of the latest work by the hand of Dan Gwinnet in the form of the Bentley Boys diptych. If you can’t wait until then, look out for his stand at the Festival of Speed or visit www.dangwinnett.co.uk.