24 Heures du Mans

Alex' Le Mans Art Show
December 2004

Page présentant les oeuvres d'Alex Wakefield, un jeune américain dessinant des tableaux ayant comme thème "Les 24 Heures du Mans".
Le reste de la page est en anglais / Rest of the page only in english

 Sommaire / Summary

- Presentation

- Photos



Instead of rebuild another text, I have put here the mail messages from Alex. He introduce you his own art show :

December 2004 was the opener for my art exhibit, 'At the Speed of Light-The Le Mans Experience'. What a turn out !
There was a steady flow of people all afternoon. The food was great. The Des Moines County News was there asking questions about how I got inspired to do this? How long did it take? What are my future plans etc. I definetly could not have pulled this off without alot of help from my instructors, friends and race fans. All of you have been a HUGE help!

I have some good shots of the crowd also me interacting with them. The shots of the pieces aren't portfolio quality, they are clear but much more of candid shots than anything. I have a friend that does professional photography and she will be able to do a proper shoot of the work after the 8th of Dec. (...)

So how did I get inspired to do this show? My father got me started on racing when I was a baby watching races with him. I first saw Le Mans in 1988 when the Silk Cut Jaguars were the cars to beat. I became entranced with the race. The exotic cars going flat out for 24 hours, the night driving with the lights, color and excitement. I soaked it all up. Ever since I've always tried to catch the race on television, create artwork of the cars and different famous landmarks on the Circuit de la Sarthe. This show is the culmination of all of that emotion and passion. The artwork you see was created this semester. Its all oil on canvas with acrylic airbrush. I've found that working with oils really gives a depth to the paintings that I hadn't had before in my work previously. The two posters from 1988 and 1970 are done in chalk pastels. I think both of the poster replicas give the show a feel of being at a race or a museum where historic posters are still hanging from yesteryear.

In addition to my artwork dance.com agreed to let me use their DVD Speed Tribe as featured on Speed TV. That really has added a flavor to the show that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. It gives the guests a window to see how the race progresses from the preparation to the drivers parade, through the day and into the night coming to the finish at 4pm on Sunday. The music is fantastic, the editing is artistic in its feel so it fits in perfectly with my vision for the show and I can't thank them enough for their permission for use of the DVD. Frank at www.planetlemans.com was also gracious enough to burn me off two CD's of just sounds from his trips to the race for the show. Frank that definetly helped give me creative juice when I was in a jam! Together with the Speed Tribe DVD, Frank's CD gave the opener a great ombviance to the show. It was loud and intense, just like a race should be.

The opener went incredibly well yesterday, there was a definite 'buzz' going around all afternoon. Many race fans and non race fans all thought the work and the production of the show was fantastic. Most of the race fans here in Southeastern Iowa are NASCAR fans so this was an eye opener to them about endurance sports car racing. I think many of them will take a minute and read an article next time they see it in a automotive publication on Le Mans or even watch some of the ALMS series next season on Speed TV. Its great to know this has been an avenue for making new fans or expanding current race fans 'vocabulary' so to speak.

I'm hoping to also get a small blurb into RACER, R&T and Le Mans Series magazines if possible. (...). Also if you know of any racing publications that may be interested in having an excerpt from the show in their magazines please direct me to them. I would love to share this with more and more race fans in europe.

Thank you again for helping out a total stranger who is just a fan like you are of the greatest race in the world! (...)

If you want to contact Alex, ask to the Webmaster of this site, page "contact"


Here is the write up of Alex' english prof :

By Beth Oldfield

Long intrigued by the elements of form, movement and speed, artist Alex Wakefield has explored, on paper and canvas, the images of the automobile and auto racing.

Wakefield currently is showing his work at the Southeastern Community College Art Gallery through Dec. 15.

He was first inspired by Hawaiian artist Niles Nakaoka’s detailed watercolors of sports cars and Formula One cars. But Wakefield’s work has evolved from simple representational studies of a car’s line and shape to become less about the car’s details and more about motion and the race car as icon. His early illustrations, Wakefield admits, “were more about draftsman-like precision and less about composition.” Now Wakefield is intrigued by a single recognizable segment of a race car". It is interesting,” Wakefield states, “how a closely examined section of a classic race car — simply its headlights or fender — has now
become the icon.” Indeed, Wakefield could be considered an iconographer. While his earlier pencil and pastel drawings may have defined him as an illustrator, his current work explores the race car as a representation of movement and speed. “I’m investigating how base washes of color can allow me to then manipulate opaque surface colors in a way that suggests movement and speed,” Wakefield explains.

To this end, artist and instructor John Bybee directed Wakefield to study the work of John Singer Sargent to inform his technique. In the exhibit “At the Speed of Light: The LeMans Experience,” Wakefield sees a correlation between his works’ play of light against dark and the conditions of day and night under which the race drivers must compete in the LeMans. Referencing a small, colored-pencil concept drawing in a thick 11 x 14 sketchbook, Wakefield executes a truncated
image of the Silk Cut Jaguar in pastel on illustration board or a large 6’ by 4’ oil and airbrushed Porsche 956 appearing to move onto Mulsanne Straight. Depth of color can be seen in his close-up study of the face of helmeted racer Jacky Ickx. Artist and instructor Rob Kineer has offered suggestions to Wakefield regarding the installation and presentation of this exhibit, which includes a continuous showing of dance.com’s music video “Speed Tribe.”

“I had at first intended to just have sounds from the race,” explains Wakefield, “but with this music video, viewers can experience how the cars move and sound.”

The dynamic way Wakefield’s work is displayed reinforces this experience. Purposefully not displayed static and flat against the wall, his paintings may be suspended from the ceiling, coming out toward the viewer or displayed at angles, all suggesting movement.

“With the work I’ve created for this exhibit,” concludes Wakefield, “I show my true passion for motorsport and the 24 hours of LeMans.”


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Pics of the artwork

Event poster

Some model cars Alex assembled : 1997-CLK GTR 1, 1988-Jaguar XJR-9LM and the 1987-Jaguar XJR-8LM

Gulf McLaren F1

Le Mans legend : Jacky Ickx

2003 Bentley Speed 8 driven by : Johnny Herbert, Mark Blundell and David Brabham

Sauber-Mercedes C9

Mercedes C9 close up

1983 Porsche 956 driven by Jacky Ickx and Derek Bell


Scene from the Steve McQueen movie : Le Mans

crowd at the refreshment table


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