Opening of the exhibition “The motorcycle: design, art, desire” on November 28

Motorcycles at GOMA
From November 28, 2020 to April 26, 2021

A breathtaking exhibition examining the history of motorcycles from a design and artistic perspective will be on display from late November at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

“The Motorcycle” will feature more than 100 motorcycles from the 1870s to the present day, all across the GOMA main floor.

Harley-Davidson Chopper c. 1973 (engine: 1941) Private collection, Mackay
Photography: Andrea Beavis

It will cover the entire range of design from the first steam motorcycle of the 19th century, the Perreaux Vélocipède à steam loaned by Paris around 1870, to new electric bikes heralding the future, such as the Savic C-Series Alpha, a 2020 release from Australian car designer Dennis Savic.

Savic 2020
Courtesy of: Savic Motorcycles Photography: Jason Lau

The exhibition will appeal not only to cycling and motorsport enthusiasts, but also anyone interested in social history, popular culture, design and technology.

The Motorcycle ‘offers multiple interactive experiences for visitors of all ages and includes a green screen motorcycle riding experience, a motorcycle design studio where you can build and customize your own virtual bike, and a mobile companion site to help you out. navigate 150 years of motorcycle design history and learn about the stories behind each of the bikes on display.

Henderson four 1912
Courtesy: Clyde Crouch Collection Photography: Robert LaPrelle

Organized by renowned American design curator and physicist Charles M. Falco and writer and filmmaker Ultan Guilfoyle in collaboration with QAGOMA, the exhibition explores pioneer motorcycles and classic commuters, mountain bikes and speed machines, as well as custom creations and motorcycles designs of the future. Among the many highlights of the exhibition:

A rare 1906 Spencer, one of the very first Australian motorcycles designed and manufactured in Auchenflower, Brisbane;

Spencer 1906
The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection Photograph: Penelope Clay

A 1920 Indian Scout Munro Special created by legendary New Zealand horseman Burt Munro;

Indian Scout Streamliner 1920 Courtesy: Clyde Crouch Photography Collection: Robert LaPrelle

A 1927 Harley-Davidson FHA 8-valve racing car with sidecar;

The 1951 Vincent Black Lightning which set an Australian land speed record at the time and more recently a world record for the highest price paid at auction for a motorcycle;

Deus Ex Machina ‘The Dog of the Drover’ 2009
Courtesy of: Joseph Mildren / Deus Ex Machina, Sydney Image Courtesy: Deus Ex Machina

Impressive speed machines such as a 1916 Indian 8-valve racing car, a 1974 Ducati 750SS and a 1994 Britten V1000, created by New Zealand design engineer John Britten;

The Dakar 2016 winning KTM Rally 450 motorcycle ridden by famous Australian motorsport champion Toby Price;

KTM Rallye 450 2015
Toby Award Collection
Image courtesy: Future7Media and KTM GROUP

Custom and stylish objects of desire including the 2016 Black Knight designed by Max Hazan, the 2016 Eve Mk II from Bandit 9, the 2018 Light Corps from Craig Rodsmith and the 2019 Fuller Moto ‘2029’.

Rodsmith Light Corps 2018
Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum © Haas Moto Galleries LLC.
Photography: Grant Schwingle

During ‘The Motorcycle’, the public can also experience ‘Full Face: Artists’ Helmets’, a showcase of some of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists responding to motorcycle helmets. Artists featured in ‘Full Face’ include Archie Moore, Brian Robinson, Callum McGrath, Eric Bridgeman, eX de Medici, Ghost Patrol, Guan Wei, Kate Beynon, Madeleine Kelly, Monika Behrens, Nell, Reko Rennie, Robert Moore, Shaun Gladwell and TextaQueen.

Kalk OU Cake 2019 Courtesy: CAKE

The exhibition is accompanied by a major program of films screened at the Gallery’s Australian Cinematheque which includes classics such as The Great Escape 1963 with Steve McQueen and contemporary interpretations of motorcycle culture captured in films such as Akira 1988, The Motorcycle Diaries 2004 and Finke: There and Back 2018.

Indian chief with sidecar 1940 Arundel Collection
Photography: Anne-Marie De Boni

‘The Motorcycle’ comes with a 320-page hardcover book co-published with Phaidon. Celebrating the history and future of motorcycles, the book includes images of the motorcycles featured in the exhibit and essays from the exhibit’s co-curators. Buy at GOMA store or online at qagoma.store.

Spencer 1906
The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection Photograph: Penelope Clay

Tickets for ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ are now on sale at qagoma.qld.gov.au/motorcycle.

Vespa GS150 1960
Courtesy: Vespa House and Frank Tonon Photography: Anne-Marie De Boni

‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ is supported by the Government of Queensland through Tourism and Events Queensland and is featured on It’s Live! in the Queensland Events Calendar.


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Joseph E. Golightly