Motoring art: Carlo Demand

| 10 Nov 2023
Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Automotive artist Carlo Demand led a dramatic life.

During his 79 years, this brilliant Frankfurt-born talent attended the first races at the Nürburgring, served in both the German and Allied forces during WW2, and had his work featured in magazines as diverse as Der Spiegel and Playboy.

Inspired by Austrian artists Hans Liska and Theo Matejko, Demand displayed a talent for drawing from the age of three.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Artist Carlo Demand captures the emotion as Hanniot tries to block Lautenschlager’s Mercedes in the 1908 French GP, and the latter’s co-driver threatens to throw a hammer in retaliation

He was born in 1920 to a German mother and a French father.

As well as drawing the family cars, including a Buick, Austro-Daimler and Chenard et Walcker, aircraft also featured in his early art.

An uncle regularly took young Carlo to air displays and race meetings during the ’30s.

Aged 16, Demand enrolled at the Städelschule academy of art and was soon getting published in local papers.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Caracciola’s Mercedes-Benz SSK powers through the night to a famous Mille Miglia win

Just as interest for his work took off, Demand’s early career was disrupted by enlistment.

Starting with the German army, he first saw service in Poland before switching to the French Army due to his Alsatian descent and French father.

Throughout the war he kept a sketchbook, and that experience gave an authenticity to his evocative military drawings.

Post-war, Demand joined an ad agency in Frankfurt, but the American forces were impressed by his style and persuaded him to join the US Army Recreation Service.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Driving a Porsche 550 Spyder, Herrmann and co-driver Linge duck under a level crossing on the 1954 Mille Miglia

Demand continued to do freelance work, with diverse clients including Texaco, Wrigley, Fortune 500, Zeiss and even covers for Mad.

In 1951 he became an American citizen, but he didn’t move to the USA until 1991.

Demand is best known for his dramatic book illustrations and, as well as motor racing, his work across 11 titles covered trucks, motorcycles, aircraft, tanks, airships and speedboats.

In 1955, German publisher Nest Verlag commissioned 128 charcoal drawings to illustrate Das Grosse Rennen, a history of motor racing by Ernst Rosemann.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Heroic Nuvolari steers his flaming Alfa Romeo to safety in the ’37 Vanderbilt Cup

Demand’s monochrome style captured the drama of famous racing moments, from the early Gordon Bennett races to the 1955 Mille Miglia.

Translated into English as The Big Race, the book became a top seller in the UK and America.

Demand’s bold style also featured on race posters, including the AvD Oldtimer-Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

After moving to America in the 1990s, Demand became a founding member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society and regularly exhibited at Pebble Beach.

Classic & Sports Car – Motoring art: Carlo Demand

Ernst Rosemann’s book about the history of motor racing is illustrated with enthralling charcoal drawings by Carlo Demand

Demand worked in a range of media, but his pencil-and-charcoal drawings best demonstrate his mastery of action and figure work.

His compositions have a cinematic quality that harks back to his early love of film, particularly the Tom Mix cowboy classics he adored as a boy.

Few could bring to life the tension of racing as masterfully as Demand.

Be it the lead dice between Mercedes teammates Caracciola and von Brauchitsch during the 1937 Monaco Grand Prix, or the close call when Hans Herrmann and co-driver Herbert Linge dived down in the cockpit of their Porsche 550 Spyder as they flashed under the fast-closing barrier of a level crossing on the ’54 Mille Miglia, his vivid drawings engrossed all ages.

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