By Jacques Vaucher
Every automobile has a story to tell. Automobiles are much more than a means of transportation, they are mobile sculptures that chronicle and dramatize the time and place which they occupy.
Robert Mittenmaier, an explosive American talent, is a master at capturing every aspect of a scene. Not only does he depict the automobile in explicit detail, but he imbues every one of his works with a feel for the time and atmosphere in which it was done.
Robert’s early work featured the American race car, but today he focuses almost exclusively on Ferraris. One of his most famous and intricate Ferrari pieces is the series of “Chinetti Impressions.” The “Impressions” get their name from Luigi Chinetti, Sr., who was the major force behind bringing Ferraris into the U.S. from the late 1940s to the late 1970s.
The Chinetti Impressions consist of 12 paintings of Ferraris in front of Chinetti Motors, in various places and times. “I’ve used original New York backgrounds as settings,” says Robert Mittenmaier “as they give the perfect atmosphere and play of light and shade, which act as a foil for the older sculptural Ferraris.” Each of the paintings depict a different side of New York, and they are like a map to the divergent feelings and atmospheres inherent in every big city.
Robert Mittenmaier’s paintings are of acrylic on Masonite. The Masonite is gessoed and sanded and then the acrylic is applied in thin layers. This results in an almost photographic quality that allows for meticulous detail without sacrificing any of the vibrant color.
His work has been successfully represented in exhibitions at Hersey, Pennsylvania; Auto Art, Connecticut; Chinetti Motors, New York; Automotive Emporium, Texas; Museum of Our National Heritage, Massachusetts; and l’art et l’automobile in New York City, Long Island and Texas. Robert’s paintings have also been featured in various magazines including: Cavallino, Autosprint, and Prancing Horse.
Yet another distinction, one that Robert claims “is my biggest artistic honor,” occurred when one of his paintings was used in Enzo Ferrari’s autobiography Piloti, Che Gente...
Robert Mittenmaier’s unique blending of artistic talent and historical background make him one of the most innovative and important automotive artists working today, so it seems only fitting that he was most influenced by one of the greats of yesterday, Peter Helck. Mr. Helck stated that “Robert is a refreshing new talent,” and upon seeing the Chinetti Impressions, he said, “The Ferrari emerging from the shadowy depths of Chinetti’s shows a mood – almost haunting.”
Robert Mittenmaier plans his paintings like a director would plan a movie. The setting, background and historical perspective are carefully researched and each one of his works express some kind of feeling or atmosphere. His works are like microcosms of specific times and places; it is as if he froze a certain place, miniaturized it and placed it in Masonite, complete with all its sights and sounds.