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The Art of the Motorcycle [Hardcover]

Guggenheim Museum
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 27 2002 Guggenheim Museum Publications
Capturing the spirit of the motorcycle and the passion and excitement it has aroused, this book brings together 100 spectacular motorcycles from the first--the 1885 Daimler Einspur--through the latest in cutting-edge concept bikes. This book is published in conjunction with a major exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 600 illustrations, 400 in color.

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The Art of the Motorcycle begins with a serious preface by Guggenheim director Thomas Krens, who calls the motorcycle "a quintessential symbol of the insecurity and optimism of our time." At 411 pages long (an ll-page, single-spaced bibliography of motorcycle books carries it over the top), it is a hefty compendium of motorcycle history, culture, design, and science. While the essays range from treatises to such fun stuff as "Bikes were always work for me," a long poem by Dennis Hopper, this thoroughgoing tome is above all a meticulous catalogue of the 96 motorcycles exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum during the summer of 1998, with details about engine design as well as esthetics. "Another significant innovation is the machine's throttle-controlled oiler," we read of the 1911 electric-orange Flying Merkel Model V. "Lubrication was a continuing problem in the early days ... but Merkel's system ... preceded by nearly two decades both Indian's as well as Harley-Davidson's adoption of this feature." The bikes are documented with crystal-clear photographs in this precision-built book. --Peggy Moorman

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Can't Go Wrong Gift Dec 16 2001
This book contains a good overview of motorcycling history, but its claims to fame are the wonderful photography and the high production values with which it was printed. It is a wonder to think that the photos are of bikes that actually exist today.
If you are searching for something to give to a person you know who enjoys riding motorcycles, who used to ride or who dreams of one day riding this is a can't miss gift. I received my copy as a gift two years ago, and I still enjoying reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for enthusiasts Feb. 26 2002
Museums, exhibits and the books devolving from them only hint at the mysteries they purport to show but rarely reveal. This is particularly true of exhibits of things that move, whether airplanes, cars and motorcycles on one hand, or people on the other. Once mummified via restoration and encapsulated in historical review, these lively subjects lose their kinesthetic value and become dessicated.
Within the limitations of those realities, here is a book that is endlessly fascinating and pleasing, replete with photos that while technically excellent are for the most part static and thus devoid of context. The essays, although pleasant, lack edge and passion, thus failing to evoke the adrenal glands (which operate at high levels when pushing a motorcycle to the limit).
The descriptions of the machines, from knowledgeable masters such as Kevin Cameron, capture the essence of what the designer tried to do and how well he (no known female motorcycle designers, but correct me if I'm wrong) hit his target.
This is a book to which one can return again and again with pleasure. For a rider who has survived (I confess, in context, that I'm the survivor of 1.6m miles on two wheels) and ridden any of these wondrous devices, the book is a channel back in time that the book conveys magnificently.
It is to the credit of the Guggenheim and the sponsors, such as BMW, that the show/book could be produced and could demonstrate to a wide public the fascination of motorcycles and riding them.
Even non-riders, who have seen motorcycles on the road or who may know motorcycle enthusiasts, will start to comprehend the addictive fascination that possesses riders who can't stop. If you are persuaded to ride, please wear the best gear you can afford, get training and realize that roadcraft only comes from mileage undertaken humbly but decisively, the kinesthetic realities no book, however good, can convey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars this is a mental not a manual Dec 4 2001
more than onehundred pages of motorcycle history, culture and sport,hundreds of high quality pictures with more history on specific makes & models. this book 'll look very "chic" on your coffeetable. . must be the finest in it's kind. ( & at 1/2 the expo price. .)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth every penny June 1 2001
One of the best motorcycle books I have ever seen. Worth every penny.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC May 25 2001
If you can only have one book of this type, this is the one to have. The photos alone are worth the cost and the thoughtful commentary and essays are an added bonus. A carefully crafted book that is the result of an historic exhibition of machines as art. I have perused this book over and over again and think that anyone interested in motorcycles will do so as well. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's quite good March 30 2000
well, I enjoyed reading the book
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