The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire


The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ exhibition presented across the Gallery of Modern Art’s (GOMA) entire ground floor featured 100 exceptional motorcycles from the 1870s to the present celebrating 150 years of motorcycle history — pioneering motorcycles and classic commuters, off-road bikes and speed machines, as well as custom creations and numerous electric bikes heralding the future — bikes ranging from the steam–powered 1871 Perreaux Vélocipède, the world’s first motorcycle designed by Louis-Guillame Perreaux, to the electric-powered 2020 Savic C-Series Alpha, from Australian automotive designer Dennis Savic.

‘The Motorcycle’ exhibition was in Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from 28 November 2020 until 26 April 2021.


RELATED: Read more about the bikes on display

A drawing from Louis-Guillaume Perreaux’s 1871 patent

Perreaux Steam Velocipede 1871

Perreaux Steam Velocipede 1871 / Collection: Department of Hauts-de-Seine / Museum of the Departmental Domain of Sceaux / Photograph: Olivier Ravoire

Savic C-Series 2020

Savic C-Series 2020 / Courtesy: Savic Motorcycles / Photograph: Jason Lau

The Motorcycle’ encompasses the span of motorcycle history, design and capability, from steam power, through internal combustion engines, and into the future with electric motors. Among the highlights are the Brisbane-made Spencer motorcycle, impressive speed machines such as a Burt Munro 1920 Indian Streamliner, a record setting 1951 Vincent Black Lightning, an original 1974 Ducati 750SS and a symbol of speed, a rare 1994 Britten V1000, created by legendary New Zealand design engineer, John Britten. Sleek contemporary custom creations include Max Hazan’s 2016 ‘Black Knight’, Daryl Villenueva’s 2016 ‘Bandit 9 Eve Mk II’, Craig Rodsmith’s 2018 ‘Corps Léger’, and Bryan Fuller’s 2019 Moto ‘2029’.

Spencer c.1906

DELVE DEEPER: Brisbane Born: The Spencer motorcycle story

Spencer motorcycle c.1906 / Courtesy: The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection / Photograph: Penelope Clay

Indian Scout Special 1920 (engine)

DELVE DEEPER: Bert Munro’s 1920 Indian Scout Special still the worlds fastest

Indian Scout Special 1920 (engine) / Collection: Clyde Crouch / Photograph: Robert LaPrelle

Vincent Black Lightning 1951

DELVE DEEPER: Vincent Black Lightning: The fastest production motorcycle for its time

Vincent Black Lightning 1951 / The Peter and Frances Bender Collection / © Bonhams Auctioneers

Ducati 750SS 1974

Ducati 750SS 1974 / Private Collection / Photograph: John Downs

Britten V1000 1994

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Britten V1000 1994 / Private Collection, New Zealand / Photograph: Natasha Harth

Hazan Black Knight 2016

Hazan Black Knight 2016 / Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum / © Haas Moto Galleries LLC / Photograph: Grant Schwingle

Bandit9 Eve Mk ll 2016

Bandit9 Eve Mk ll 2016 / Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum / © Haas Moto Galleries LLC / Photograph: Grant Schwingle

Rodsmith Corps Léger 2018

Rodsmith Corps Léger 2018 / Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum / © Haas Moto Galleries LLC / Photograph: Grant Schwingle

Fuller Moto ‘2029’, 2019

DELVE DEEPER: Honouring our past by celebrating our future: The Fuller Moto ‘2029’

Fuller Moto ‘2029’, 2019 / Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum / © Haas Moto Galleries LLC / Photograph: Grant Schwingle

The exhibition highlights the important role gender has played in motorcycle history, with the inclusion of the Vespa and the Honda Cub, two bikes designed specifically with working women in mind, through to great objects of desire such as the Ducati Monster which was designed not only to look cool, but to be ridden easily.

Vespa 150GS 1960

Vespa 150GS 1960 / Collection: Vespa House and Frank Tonon / Photograph: Anne-Marie De Boni

Honda C102 Super Cub 1960

Honda C102 Super Cub 1960 / © Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, New York / Photograph: Randy Leffingwell

Ducati M900 Monster 1994

Ducati M900 Monster 1994 / The RJ Webber Desmo Collection, Gold Coast / Photograph: John Downs

Exploring in depth the abstract world of avant-garde custom designs the exhibition includes the work of Australia’s leading motorcycle custom designer, Deus Ex Machina.

There are multiple interactive experiences for all ages — a green screen motorcycle riding experience, a motorcycle design studio for building and customising virtual bikes, and an in-space mobile companion site which enables audiences to navigate the show and dive deeper into the history and stories behind each bike on display.

This is a must-see experience for bike and motor sport enthusiasts, as well as anyone with a love of popular culture, design, technology and social history.

Deus Ex Machina ‘The Drover’s Dog’ 2009

DELVE DEEPER: Deus Ex Machina’s ‘Drover’s Dog’ is the perfect surf bike

Deus Ex Machina ‘The Drover’s Dog’ 2009 / Collection: Joseph Mildren/Deus Ex Machina, Sydney / Image courtesy: Deus Ex Machina

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  1. Fascinating exploration of motorcycles as objects of design, art, and desire! ️ It’s incredible how these machines combine functionality and aesthetic appeal.