Actual Factual Atlanta: Who made that giant car sculpture in Midtown?

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Actual Factual Atlanta: Who made that giant car sculpture in Midtown?

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Midtown Alliance
German artists Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle with their creation, “Autoeater.”

Welcome to "Actual Factual," a regular column in which I answer reader questions about goings-on in Atlanta. Here's one I did recently about why there are horses near a brewery in Grant Park.

Now that you're familiar, you'll find information for submitting your own questions at the bottom. 

Question: Who made that giant car sculpture in Midtown?

For the past three years or so, thousands of people a day passed Rockspinner, a 22,000-pound granite boulder that rested on a spinning base at the intersection of Peachtree and 10th Street.

But that installation was replaced last week with something new and, if you can believe it, heavier. 

Autoeater, a 16-ton marble sculpture with a car sticking out of it, has taken the rock’s place. 

The towering monument was installed just in time for thousands of runners and spectators passing by during the AJC Peachtree Road Race on Tuesday.

Surely they’ll look on in awe and wonder: Where did this thing come from? 

The answer: German artists Julia Venske and Gregor Spänle, a pair of creators who began collaborating in 1991. In Atlanta, they’re represented by Marcia Wood Gallery

Much of Venske & Spänle’s work combines domestic items, such as bowls, bottles or food packaging, with marble. 

Autoeater was a result of wanting to create a piece with a car, the artists said in an interview. They chose the iconic Fiat Panda because to them, it represents an independent, relaxed lifestyle that seems to be fading. (The Panda has been considered the Italian counterpart to the Volkswagen Beetle.) 

They found the car in a Munich newspaper ad years ago, drove it to a studio and cut it in half, Spanle said. The sculpture was shipped to Midtown from a marble quarry in northern Italy, near Tuscany. 

It’s appropriate for the monument to exist in a city of cars, Venske said, joking that maybe it will inspire people to ditch their cars because the vehicles “might get eaten in Midtown.” 

Midtown Alliance issued a request for proposals from local, national and international artists in late 2016, and members of its public art committee subsequently chose the work from 11 proposals. It will be on display for three years, on property owned by the Dewberry Capital Corporation, which leases the temporary park space to Midtown Alliance for $1 per year.

If you’d like to learn more directly from the artists, they’ll give a short presentation on the creative process and development of Autoeater at German culture institute Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP for the public event here.

And if you can’t make that, the pair plans to return in February to do a solo show with Marcia Wood. 

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I am a staff writer with the AJC and a lover of Atlanta, my adopted home for nearly six years after moving to Georgia from Florida. To submit “Actual Factual” questions, contact me at becca.godwin@ajc.com, @BeccaJGGodwin on Twitter or via the form below. Thanks.

Autoeater replaces Rockspinner. See more about the previous installation:

‘Rockspinner’ art piece makes debut on Peachtree Street. Video by John Spink / AJC
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