Undeniably one of the most influential innovations of the modern world, the car has revolutionized manufacturing and transformed how we move, forever changing our landscapes, cities, environments and economies. With each revolution, each transformation, have come almost unmatched impacts upon wider culture, changing not only the way we live, but the ways we look at and consider the world around us. The influence of the car upon photography and the work created by photographers since the early 20th century can be clearly traced through the V&A’s photography collection.
Autofocus explores the deep cultural significance and impact of the car on the history of photography, playing a role both as subject matter and as a genuine creative vehicle – the means by which photographers have accomplished many of their great works. Written by Marta Weiss, Senior Curator of Photographs at the V&A, and published to coincide with the opening in November 2019 of the exhibition ‘Cars: Accelerating the Modern World’, Autofocus presents over 100 photographs, supported by commentaries and an introduction of c. 1,500 words, that span from the early years of the automobile to the present day. For both photography and car-loving audiences, Autofocus illustrates the ascendance of the car as a cultural icon, and the ways in which it has shaped the world around and ahead of us.