February 15, 2023—
The sun sets over the exalted Los Angeles Hills, casting an ephemeral golden hue over the Aragonés Estate. Upon entering the Estate, I am greeted by Clark Gable’s pristine 1941 Cadillac—a Hollywood-defining relic and a testament to Cadillac’s long-standing relationship with creators. I make my way into the premise and am stopped in my tracks by an inundation of ethereal works. To my right are the works of investigative artist Dannielle Bowman and legendary photographer Ming Smith. Around the corner in an open living room concept, hangs the works of ‘female gaze’ creator Petra Collins.
Cadillac and Artnet have partnered to curate this highly acclaimed lineup as an ode to their historic 1930 Goddess ornament and as a celebration for the modern bronze Goddess, which will be returning to the Cadillac CELESTIQ ultra-luxury EV model. The commissioned photographic works of Bowman, Ming, and Collins will be offered in an auction presented by Artnet. All proceeds will be donated to Free Arts NYC, a non-profit that utilizes art as a gateway to empower youth in underserved communities.
Artnet and Cadillac hosted their ArtTalk, an intimate panel discussion, on the roof of the Aragonés Estate where the divine trinity of photographers alongside Cadillac Designers, Alexandra Dymowska and Laetitia Lopez, conversed about their personal ties to Cadillac, sources of creative inspiration, and their various interpretations of a ‘goddess’.
Danielle Bowman’s black and white photographs evoke nostalgia while visually depicting evolution—a sensory definition of timelessness. Her photographs embody the modern-day goddess all while her memories of Cadillac stem from childhood. “My great-grandma had a brown Cadillac. I have this vision of her in a purple suit driving a brown Cadillac to work,” Bowman recalled with a bright smile spanning her face. Danielle revealed during the ArtTalk that she is presently diversifying her artistic breadth by pivoting towards filmmaking, a medium she finds makes her “more ambitious as a maker.”
Ming Smith captures the Goddess by “letting her go free.” Smith's featured works spotlight the Goddess sculpture, foregrounding Her empyrean metaphysicality. During the ArtTalk, the celebrated artist heavily reflected on her artistic genesis. She notably held a magnifying glass over the progression and acclamation today’s photographers experience, noting that in her career beginnings,“being a photographer was like holding hands with poverty.” Smith’s motivation for paving her own path as a Black female photographer was to reshape the social degradations of the Black community and “make images that show the love and humanity of Black people.” Now displaying her works at the MOMA, Smith seizes every opportunity, demonstrating how a background dancer in a Tina Turner’s music video evolved into photographing prominent Black figures, like Grace Jones and Nina Simone.
Petra Collins’ photographs reimagine the Cadillac Goddess through the female gaze as an emblem of divine femininity that captivates anyone in Her line of sight. When asked what the word ‘goddess’ means to her, Collins imparted, “There isn’t one. Goddesses are everywhere.” The Canadian artist and her work, in both the photography and film mediums, have patently metamorphosed into a blueprint for ethereal works of art. Whether it’s shooting commercially for Gucci and BVLGARI, publishing several photography books, or directing music videos, Collins uses every project to heal and communicate with her inner child. Collins reminisced about her family’s Cadillac, which to her was “a vehicle to dissociate in.” On drives, she would make little films in her head, turning the vehicle for dissociation into a vehicle for creation.
Following the ArtTalk, the sun had fully set at the Aragonés Estate and the L.A. night sky glistened with anticipation and excitement. It became apparent that the Cadillac Goddess’ bespoke craftsmanship and innovation surpasses the vessel alone. Instead, The Goddess has become an cross-model icon and a reminder of the intersection between art and automobiles. The evening continued with music by DJ Suga Shay as guests commemorated Cadillac and the works of the three renowned photographers.
Photos by Dan MacMedan for Cadillac