Sean Sullivan

Populuxe and Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan photographs cars, but his work is not simply photographs of cars.  Each image is a portrait of a particular design, a study in color and graphics, and a snapshot of the time in which that car epitomized high style.  The late 1950s and early 1960s were the age of great automobile styling, with the cars of that era akin to pop art.  The colors, chrome, lavish interiors, and overall design were synonymous with the idea of popular luxury that became apparent in all consumer goods of the postwar era.  Sean’s work captures the then public fascination with jet-age technology and how that was applied to vehicles that stayed closer to the ground.  His emphasis on fins and tails soar up and out of the picture plane, giving each image a sense of motion even when the car was still.

Sean’s works are not purely postwar vehicles, and regardless of the decade or model, he captures elements that emphasize how design can be pure eye candy.  Through an emphasis on the hood ornament, a particular decal, or the contrast of the exterior chrome with a leather interior, Sean’s photographs transform classic cars into an intensely graphic object study—a reflection of both the time in which the car was created and the care in which it has been preserved and maintained.    

Jessica Roscio Curator, Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University


Sean Sullivan holds a Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University where he majored in Graphic Design and Minored in Photography. A fine art photographer, he has been exhibited locally and nationally, most recently at the Danforth Art Museum, the Curated Fridge, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Darkroom Gallery, Panopticon Gallery, Plymouth Center for the Arts and Morse Institute Library. In 2017, he was selected for the Critical Mass Top 200 and in 2014 he was featured as an Emerging Artist by Panopticon Gallery. Sean has had his photography published in the Improper Bostonian Magazine and Northeastern University Magazine.

Visit: Sean Sullivan

Statement Classic Style I have been surrounded by cars since I can remember, in the 1980’s my father was a Nissan salesman in Boston and he would often bring home a young kid’s dream, a Nissan 300ZX Turbo sports car. My family would take weekend trips to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut to watch actor Paul Newman race and I would use my father’s Pentax Super Program 35mm SLR camera to make pictures of the race cars. While pursing a degree in graphic design at Northeastern University I started photographing classic cars in a graphic style. First in small format black and white, then in color in medium format and large format. This ongoing series represents fifteen summers of attending local classic car cruise nights and car shows. I use the frame to create strong graphic images with focus on the car’s details, clean lines and bold colors. I am interested in the factory details as well as the custom details that their owners add to their cars to make them unique. From custom paint schemes to ornamental decorations, these cars have a personality all their own. The cars represented here span a time frame from the 1930’s to the 1960’s when American automobiles were viewed as rolling works of art.