On the initiative of the Galerie Orlinda Lavergne and in partnership with the Cité de l’Automobile, the street artist C215—who is well known in Mulhouse for the portraits he produced in August 2016 on the La Poste postboxes, commissioned by the Mulhouse town council—, is holding a new exhibition, entitled ‘Saga Mécanique’, which contains portraits of the prominent figures in the history of the automobile.
The development of our townscapes and cityscapes is closely linked to that of the automobile. An urban archaeologist, C215 shows us the faces of the prominent figures in the history of the automobile, from major manufacturers to racing car drivers, and the leading figures in the field of mechanical engineering and the history of locomotion.
You can see the portraits of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot, Étienne Lenoir, Nikolaus Otto, Rudolf Diesel, André and Edouard Michelin, René Panhard, Carl Benz, Charles Rolls, Louis Renault, Ettore Bugatti, Henry Ford, and so on; included is a portrait of Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Duchess of Uzès, who was the first woman to obtain a driving licence in France, on 12 May 1898.
Executed on objects that are both popular and unusual, such as old American fuel pumps and oil drums, 2CV doors, milestones, old parking meters, and toy buggies, these faces have completely transformed our relation with transport, economy, time, distances, freedom, work, leisure, culture, seduction, and luxury, and, more simply, our relation with the world.
Who is C215?
Born in 1973, Christian Guémy, who is more commonly known as C215, is a major French street artist. He lives and works in Vitry-sur-Seine (in the 92 département).
An expert in stencil work, he has developed a unique style and examples of his work can be seen in streets throughout the world, in unique locations such as the research facility CEA-Saclay, and the prisons in Versailles and Bois d’Arcy. His works are exhibited in many galleries and prestigious institutions, such as the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, the Musée de la Poste in Paris, the Mohamed VI Museum in Rabat, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Saint Petersburg, and so on.
A humanist and art historian, C215 produces portraits relating to his favourite themes, which are childhood, marginalised people, anonymous people, lovers, and also animals (dogs, cats, and birds), which feature widely in his works. He is undoubtedly one of the most influential urban artists of his generation.