Rolls-Royce shows us some art inspired by its ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’

Article by Christian Andrei, on May 9, 2011

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has revealed the details of a very special commission with renowned photographer Rankin as part of the 100th anniversary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, which is the figurine famous for its defining and prominent position on the bonnet of each Rolls-Royce unit.

For the next months, Rankin will capture 100 images inspired by the remarkable Rolls-Royce figurine. The company has revealed the first two pictures in the Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection.

Just like Charles Robinson Sykes, who crafted the Spirit of Ecstasy flying lady a hundred years ago, Rankin gets his inspiration from the sensuality and beauty of the feminine form.

Also, Rankin has his inspirational wife and model Tuuli Shipster as his muse for the first of his collection, just as Eleanor Velasco Thornton was rumored to be Sykes’ inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy.

Through the commission, Rankin is offered full artistic license to create a very personal and modern interpretation of the legendary Rolls-Royce icon.

The commission is an unprecedented method for a brand like Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and its icon. With Tuuli in silhouette and draped in flowing fabric, the picture has undeniable resonance with the qualities that inspired Sykes a hundred years ago.

The image also captures the mystery of the lady, adding to the intrigue and debate of whether or not Eleanor Thornton was truly the inspiration for the creation of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

It is anticipated that the Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection will develop organically in the next few months. The project would employ a number of themes as Rankin’s study of the Spirit of Ecstasy. Rankin is expected to make good use of power, speed, wind and metallic as well as beauty of age, intrigue and mystery and blend them with materials, paint and fabrics to create a set of carefully selected portraits, each of which speaks a lot about the global appeal of marquee.

The Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection will feature women coming from different ages and cultures, all symbolizing the femininity of the Spirit of Ecstasy. Rankin remarked that the collection is one of his biggest projects, noting that the images will serve as a statement about the modern day Rolls-Royce - fresh, directional and original and at the same time beautiful and inspirational.

He quipped that the portraits will feature different perspectives, including full length and close-up shots that incorporate facial features to reflect a distinct interpretation of the connotations of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos described Rankin’s portraits as part of contemporary iconography. He quipped that Rankin has a talent for vividly capturing the strength and character of his subjects – making him the ideal photographer to portray the Spirit of Ecstasy into the 21st century.

Throughout 2011, the collection’s original portraits will be displayed at different events across the world. Moreover, Rolls-Royce owners and guests will receive invitations to exclusive private views at Rolls-Royce showrooms in the next few months, the first to be held at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London on May 10.

Press Release

RANKIN: SPIRIT OF ECSTASY – AN ART COMMISSION FOR ROLLS-ROYCE MOTOR CARS

In the year that celebrates the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars today announced details of a very special commission. Over the next months, 100 images inspired by the Spirit of Ecstasy - the figurine famed for its prominent and defining position on the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce - will be captured by renowned photographer Rankin. The first two images in the Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection are revealed today.

Like Charles Robinson Sykes, the man who crafted the legendary Spirit of Ecstasy flying lady one hundred years ago, Rankin takes inspiration from the beauty and sensuality of the feminine form. Just as Eleanor Velasco Thornton is rumoured to have been Sykes’ muse for the Spirit of Ecstasy, so Rankin has turned to his inspirational wife and model Tuuli Shipster for the first of his 100 portraits.

Spirit of Ecstasy #1 launches a commission which sees Rankin offered full artistic licence to create a modern and very personal interpretation of the Spirit of Ecstasy, an unprecedented approach for a brand like Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and its iconic figure. Featuring Tuuli in silhouette, draped in flowing fabric, the image has undeniable resonance with the flying lady, echoing the qualities which inspired Sykes 100 years ago, whilst capturing the mystery within which she is shrouded; for the question of whether or not Eleanor Thornton was truly the inspiration for the Spirit of Ecstasy 100 years ago remains one of intrigue and debate rather than hard fact.1

The Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy collection will evolve organically in the months ahead, incorporating a variety of themes as part of Rankin’s exploration of the contemporary Spirit of Ecstasy. Power, the beauty of age, intrigue and mystery, speed, wind and metallic will blend with materials, fabrics and paint, to create an unprecedented selection of photographic portraits which will complement each other as a full set, but also work individually to ensure global appeal. The work will feature a selection of women of different ages and cultures, symbolising the femininity of the Spirit of Ecstasy.

“This is one of the biggest projects I have ever taken on,” commented Rankin. “The images will be a statement about the modern day Rolls-Royce; they will feel fresh, directional and original, while also being beautiful and inspirational. The portraits will comprise a variety of perspectives, including full length as well as close-up shots incorporating facial features – an eye, a mouth – to reflect a unique interpretation of the figurine’s connotations, while quietly symbolising its classic underpinnings.”

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO added, “Rankin’s powerful portraits are part of contemporary iconography. His talent for capturing the strength and character of his subjects makes him the ideal photographer to take the Spirit of Ecstasy into the 21st century. I very much look forward to presenting this unique photographic collection to the world.”

Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy will tour throughout 2011. Original portraits will be presented at a range of events across the world. In addition, Rolls-Royce owners and guests will be invited to a series of exclusive private views at Rolls-Royce showrooms in the months ahead, starting at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars London on 10 May.

For more information on this unique photographic collection and the locations where it will be presented over the coming months, visit www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com/rankin

Topics: rolls-royce

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