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William Mitchell

(b. 1912)


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(1912– )

As the successor to Harley Earl as the head of styling and vice‐president at General Motors, Bill Mitchell was a highly influential automobile stylist over a 40‐year career at the company. After studying at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Art Students League in New York he worked as an illustrator and layout artist for the Barron Collier advertising agency. Mitchell's work came to the attention of Harley Earl, in charge of styling at General Motors, who employed him in 1935. In 1936 he was made head of design at Cadillac where his designs included the classic Series 60 Special. After the Second World War Mitchell was, in some quarters, credited with the design of the tail fins of the 1948 Cadillac. This marked the beginning of a trend towards increasingly soaring tail fins that continued until the late 1950s. In 1958, as vice‐president and head of styling, Mitchell soon dampened the ardour for the styling extravagances and visual metaphors for the conspicuous consumption of 1950s USA in favour of a more restrained aesthetic. Amongst the striking designs produced under his leadership were the 1963 Buick Riviera and Corvette Stingray, the 1966 Oldsmobile Tornado and the 1967 Eldorado.See also Earl, Harley.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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