Bikes Imitate Art

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Some avid cyclists may argue that the two-wheeled wonder is a work of art in and of itself. But “Art Bikes,” a series of three custom bicycles inspired by masterpieces in the permanent collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), elevates the iconic mechanical form to new heights. To honor its 100-year anniversary, MIA reached out to area bike shop Handsome Cycles as well as KNOCK,TREAT AND COMPANY, Peacock Groove, and Dirt Design Graphics to draw a line between the iconic design and the museum’s own collection.
The first was created after Hans Ledwinka’s 1948 Tatra T-87 Four-Door Sedan, a classic silver car with sweeping curvature and elegant lines. Through a smooth, full rear fender skirt, drop handle bars wrapped in tan leather, and a dynamo powered front light, the bike pays homage both to Ledwinka’s craftsmanship and to the car’s devastating good looks.
A surface composed of complex painted layers distinguishes the second piece, drawn from the impressionistic style of Claude Monet’s 1891 painting: Grainstack, Sun in the Mist. Highly detailed and colorful, the paint speaks for itself while the rest of the bike remains simple as an allusion to the work’s natural setting. A worn wooden crate and a pale brown saddle, grips, and tires transport the viewer (or rider) to a simpler time.
Perhaps the most successful marriage of two and three dimensional geometries came in Frank Stella’s Tahkt-i-Sulayman, Variation II. The endlessly vibrant circles and stripes of his 1969 painting come through in playful accents like a bold, variegated frame, red saddle and bar grips, and pink rimmed tires. Even the chain links are multi-colored, while the covered back wheel reads like a psychedelic pie chart.
Though the functional bikes are for display only, both MIA and Handsome Cycle are offering an exclusive line of rideable bikes to celebrate the 100-year anniversary starting from just $1,099. Visually stunning and truly inspirational, MIA’s project indicates a clear dedication to the past – and desire to keep rolling forward.

Lizzie Wright


​Lizzie Wright is an aspiring artist and designer with a passion for the written word. While she works on her BFA in Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), she spends her (rare) spare time riding around Providence on her trusty Cannondale and drinking lots of coffee. She is especially fascinated by the dichotomy between aesthetic form and function, which has an immense influence on her work. As a lover of the natural world, Lizzie plans to focus on Nature, Culture, and Sustainability Studies to pursue a more efficient future for design. Read more by visiting her website

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