Cadillac Ranch (1974) is an installation commissioned by Amarillo billionaire Stanley March 3, and created by the Ant Farm. The Ant Farm is a group of artists and architects from San Francisco which produced experimental artworks. Ant Farm uses different art forms such as architecture, performance, sculpture, installation and graphic design while documenting all these on camera in order to spread critical criticism about the American culture and mass media.
About the artwork itself, Cadillac Ranch shows 10 Cadillac vehicles of different models, buried halfway into the mud in a straight row, at an angle similar to the angle of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The 10 different car models serve to show the changes in the tail-fin from 1949 to 1963. The cars were however vandalised with spray paint as they were left there, but Ant Farm would regularly go back to repaint the cars.
“Ant Farm presented a wonderful alternative model where you can love cars and critique them, where the assassination of JFK can be deconstructed, celebrated, and shuddered at, where private passions and public issues can hit a kind of merge lane”
It was to talk about materialism and fame as well, a homage to the rise and fall of the tail-fin as an icon of postwar American consumer excess. The purpose was to make a statement about innovation in a technological era, the American dream and the ridiculousness of consumerism. The founder of Ant Farm, Chip Lord, had a particular fascination for the Cadillac tailfin as a design motif of American futurism, utopianism, desire, seduction and pure style. What initially was meant as a roadside art piece was cleverly tweaked in its meaning to represent the values of the American society.