Supporting creative communities with aspirational design
When the gavel fell at the Contemporary Curated auction at Sotheby’s on Friday 2nd October 2020, it reiterated how powerful a vehicle art can be in creating opportunity and positive change. Co-curated by Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer and Virgil Abloh, Chief Creative Director and Founder of Off-White and Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, the headline lot was a one-of-a-kind Mercedes-Benz 1:3 model of Project Geländewagen, as part of the collaboration between the two curators. Supporting the creative industries at this critical time was key for both Mercedes-Benz and Abloh. The sale of the collaborative design piece replica raised 160,000 USD, with all proceeds going to the Virgil Abloh™ ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship Fund to support fashion students of academic promise of Black, African American, or African descent.
Bettina Fetzer, Vice President Marketing at Mercedes-Benz AG, says, “Creativity drives Mercedes-Benz and as a global luxury brand, we are aware of and take the responsibility of our voice. We all felt it was crucial to support the creative community during this difficult time, and are delighted to raise funds for Virgil’s ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship, donating all proceeds to an important cause that inspires the next generation.”
Project Geländewagen is the first initiative of its kind – a conceptual design project unifying the leading minds in automobile design with one of the greatest design forces in fashion, coming together to create an iconic piece of design that transcends the boundaries of their respective fields. Part reality and part fantasy, the project, which launched in September this year, used the Mercedes-Benz G-Class to explore ways of disrupting future perceptions of luxury and the result is a distinctive manifestation of the G-Class as never seen before. The home-scale model, created exclusively for the charity auction, allows the winner to own this unique design piece and be personally introduced to the design concepts that inspired by Wagener and Abloh.
Throughout the Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auction, Gorden Wagener and Virgil Abloh’s influence radiated beyond the Project Geländewagen maquette. Among the highlights, which were on view by appointment at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters in New York between 26 September and 1 October, were three artworks selected by each design visionary. The pure lines and bold aesthetics that inform Gorden Wagener’s designs at Mercedes-Benz are reflected in his edit of non-representational imagery, including Kenneth Noland’s Ember (1960), Helen Frankenthaler’s Pass (1969) and Gerhard Richter’s 14.2.88 (1988). Virgil Abloh meanwhile took the opportunity to spotlight the seminal African American artists starring in the auction, his picks comprised: Barkley L. Hendricks portrait Latin From Manhattan…The Bronx Actually (1980) and Untitled Anxious Red Drawing by Rashid Johnson (2020).
Gorden Wagener says, “I am honoured to be the co-curator for Sotheby’s esteemed auction this year alongside Virgil. Mercedes-Benz has always been passionate about inspiring creativity, and the idea behind Project Geländewagen was to investigate new definitions of luxury and design. Given the times we are living in, we felt compelled to give back and do something to help shape the future, which is what this project was all about.”
“Now more than ever those of us who have voices and have opened doors need to keep them open, and make sure that the conversation includes the youth” Virgil Abloh adds. “This is what we’re working to achieve through my Post Modern Scholarship fund. Everything that I’ve done in my career has been to pave the way for the next generation, and now with the help of Mercedes-Benz we’re able to take that one step further.”
“We were thrilled to present the Mercedes-Benz Project Geländewagen maquette as a highlight of our Contemporary Curated auction in New York.” Says Charlotte Van Dercook, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Curated auctions in New York. “This unique piece, which achieved 160,000 USD, marked the first collaboration between Virgil Abloh and Gorden Wagener, who we had the honor of working with as this season’s co-curators. It was a privilege to have these two creative forces participate in our sale, and to raise funds for the Virgil Abloh™ ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship Fund.”
About the ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship Fund
Virgil Abloh, with the support of his partners evian, Farfetch, Louis Vuitton, New Guards Group and Nike, has committed $1 million to support scholarships and career opportunities for Black students through the Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, which will be managed in partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF), the foremost fashion-oriented education and workforce development nonprofit in the U.S. The mission of the Fund is to foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships to students of academic promise of Black, African-American, or African descent. The FSF annual scholarship competition awards scholarships on a merit basis to undergraduate students who successfully complete a case study competition. The FSF also provides scholars with coveted internship and career opportunities, mentorships, professional development events, networking, and access to the industry’s most influential leaders and companies.
Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as Advisory services for collectors, museums, corporations, artists, estates and foundations.
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Mercedes-Benz AG at a glance
Mercedes-Benz AG is responsible for the global business of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans with over 173,000 employees worldwide. Ola Källenius is Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG. The company focuses on the development, production and sales of passenger cars, vans and services. Furthermore, the company aspires to be leading in the fields of connectivity, automated driving and alternative drives with its forward-looking innovations. The product portfolio comprises the Mercedes-Benz brand with the sub-brands Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes me - as well as the smart brand, and the EQ product and technology brand for electric mobility. Mercedes-Benz AG is one of the largest manufacturers of premium passenger cars. In 2019 it sold nearly 2.4 million cars and more than 438,000 vans. In its two business divisions, Mercedes-Benz AG is continually expanding its worldwide production network with over 40 production sites on four continents, while aligning itself to meet the requirements of electric mobility. At the same time, the company is developing its global battery production network on three continents. Sustainable actions play a decisive role in both business divisions. To the company, sustainability means creating value for all stakeholders on a lasting basis: customers, employees, investors, business partners and the society as a whole. The basis for this is the sustainable business strategy of Daimler in which the company takes responsibility for the economic, ecological and social effects of its business activities and looks at the entire value chain.