When you think of art, do you think of a sculpture in a park? Or maybe a painting in a museum? How about 10 cars lined up on a highway in Texas?
- In the early 1970s, architects Chip Lord and Doug Michels, along with art student Hudson Marquez, discussed the idea of creating a monument to cars and tailfins.
- They’d seen a children’s book The Look of Cars, and became intrigued with the idea of documenting the popularity and later disappearance of tailfins on old cars.
- They contacted several millionaires asking for funding. Stanley Marsh 3 became their patron.
- He funded Cadillac Ranch, which opened in 1974 in Amarillo, Texas.
- Ten Cadillacs were placed nose-first in a row in the ground. They were originally located in a wheat field, but later moved to a cow pasture on I-40. Stanley owned both pieces of land.
- The cars were all used and were made between 1949 and 1963. Some of them were still running, some were junk cars.
- People can visit Cadillac Ranch via a frontage road and through a gate onto the private property.
- The artists actively encourage people to paint the cars with graffiti. Over the years, the cars have been many colors. They were painted white once for a commercial and pink for Stanley’s wife Wendy’s birthday.
- They were all painted black after Doug Michel’s death. In June, 2020, they were painted black again by activists angered over George Floyd’s death. The words “Black Lives Matter” were painted on the cars.
- Tailfin: a recognizable upswept design on the rear of some old cars
- Activist: someone working for a cause
Questions and Answers
Question: Is Cadillac Ranch well known?
Answer: Cadillac Ranch has been featured in several music videos and is the title of a song from Bruce Springsteen. It was referenced in Pixar’s 2006 movie Cars.
See images of Cadillac Ranch.
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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Cadillac Ranch Facts - American History for Kids. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/cadillac-ranch/