Un Rendez-Vous with Parisian Car Dealer ARTHUR KARAKOUMOUCHIAN

Paris is a ghost town at dawn. At its quietest hours, under the blue-pink sky, its streets look as though they silently yearn to be disrupted with the sound of screeching tires. In Claude Lelouch’s 1976 short film C’était un rendez-vous, the French filmmaker takes this opportunity for uninterrupted flight mode. The eight-minute film is shot from the bumper of a Ferrari as it speeds through Paris at daybreak. The car neglects all traffic laws, going so fast it seems to hover over the cobbled streets as small flocks of doves hurry to get out of its way. The sound-track of the film is the hypnotizing whine of the car’s engine, punctuated by occasional gear shifts. At the end, the true incentive of the joyride is revealed. The car comes to an abrupt halt at a curb in Montmartre, and the driver gets out to embrace a woman who waits for him as the bells of the Sacré-Cœur toll in the background. It was all for romance.

Arthur Kar takes a break in his showroom to contemplate 032c Issue 31.

This is what one imagines car dealer extraordinaire Arthur Kar must dream about at night. As he testifies, automobiles themselves can inspire their own kind of love affairs: “The best time I have is when I’m driving the cars. Any car. Even if they’re ugly from the outside, they’re still fun. And I love to go fast. I used to race cars for fun. The cops literally hate me.” Starting out as a teenage car washer at a dealership, Kar’s passion for mechanics progressed continuously until it manifested itself in his company L’art de L’automobile. “I have just as much respect for the guy that changes the tires, the oil, that washes the car, as I do for the guy that sells or drives the most beautiful car in the world,” Kar muses, “They’re all the same people, because they all have the same passion and essentially, they do the same work. I was that 16-year-old guy washing the car. I still am.”

Adrien Leborgne, Arthur Kar, and Giedrė Dukauskaitė at the office.

Born in Beirut, Arhur’s full last name, Karakoumouchian, seems to have been given to him as a prophesy from the automotive gods. The collector of obscure vehicles now operates between Paris and Los Angeles, and considers his automobiles to be “useable art.” He has become known for fusing his love for cars with the fashion and art world. “Fashion as a craft inspires me to want to evolve the world of cars in an expressive sense. Car culture can
be creative too, like fashion. They attract the same kind of people,” he says.

In his Parisian catacombs that smell of fuel and leather, Kar consults his clientele, who trust him for his discretion. Kar’s workplace requires steady temperatures and little light, which is why his offices stretch out into vast underground spaces stacked with vintage Porsches, limited edition Ferraris, and remodeled Rolls Royces. His lair is what adrenaline looks like – a balance of chaos and tightly-wound order.

GARAGE 3
L'Art de L'Automobile headquarters

For the ultimate driving experiences in the world, Kar recommends the California coast and the German Autobahn. 

Published in

Issue #32 — Summer 2017"US vs. THEM"

How do you find truth in an age without facts? The answer: wake up and stick together. In this issue’s dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY explores how the Global Right Wing’s blatant disregard for reality has given us all a license to become Nonsense Warriors. Turning away from “them” and towards “us,” CATHERINE OPIE, NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE, and STEFANO PILATI take us into their inner circles of friends, while COLLIER SCHORR turns BELLA HADID into Lisa Lyon. We revisit the work of MICHAEL SCHMIDT, and how his community workshops turned Berlin into a cauldron of contemporary photography. JACKIE NICKERSON shows us what Robert Longo looks like with a faster Internet connection, while CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us into his kitchen to explore the post-digital nature of food. We speak with VIRGIL ABLOH as he plots a fashion industry coup d’état and follow JASON DILL on a skate odyssey to hell and back to Fucking Awesome. And, last but not least, we make a pilgrimage to Santo Sospir, the villa on the Riviera where JEAN COCTEAU created his greatest Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also included with the issue, our “HEAT UP HADID” TRANSFER KIT which allows you to create your own t-shirt emblazoned with this issue’s BELLA HADID cover.

Learn more about the issue below:

Nothing makes sense. Nothing ever will again. The year 2016 marked a total rupture in the theater of politics. Even if the damaging effects of Donald Trump’s election somehow prove to be short-lived, his rise indicates a crisis wherein digital acceleration has led to political regression. In our dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY creates a handbook for our new political paradigm. Its central hypothesis: Only within the chaos of this media overload will we discover what is real again.

“I am not sure if the sculptures were even subjects for her photographs …” For her first ever magazine editorial, “Heroines: Paris/Los Angeles,” artist CATHERINE OPIEteamed up with artistic director NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE to create a study on the power of classicism and ambiguity. The exploration begins on the beige stone of the Louvre’s sculpture garden and continues to Opie’s studio in Los Angeles, documenting a sprawling circle of friends and acquaintances.

On a surrealist journey into the past, Martin Mosebach visits the summer retreat of JEAN COCTEAU. At the Villa Santo Sospir, the artist spent a decade’s worth of summers smoking opium and creating his largest total artwork.

Back with a vengeance for her third 032c cover story, COLLIER SCHORR teams up with fashion director Mel Ottenberg for “Smith & Wesson Blues,” a shoot with BELLA HADID, inspired by the body builder and Robert Mapplethorpe muse Lisa Lyon.

“Duchamp is my lawyer.” From his fortress of irony, designer VIRGIL ABLOH is set on turning fashion into the industrial arm of the art world. In conversation with 032c’s managing editor Thom Bettridge, he explains how streetwear is not just a fad, but a logic inspired by Dada and destined to dominate the digital age.

Accompanied by a re-print of MICHAEL SCHMIDT’s 2002 story for 032c, Kolja Reichert explores how the photographer’s community workshops from 1976 to 1986 create a style born out of the “Gray Island” of Berlin.

For the story “Energy Crisis,” photographer LUKAS WASSMANN and designer STEFANO PILATI shoot an editorial inside Michael Sailstorfer’s exhibition “Hitzefrei” at St. Agnes. As his first for a magazine editorial, Pilati’s styling includes garments from his own personal wardrobe.

“It’s an exhausting reality,” laughs JASON DILL. In an odyssey documented with drawings and pictures from his personal archive, the skate legend takes us to hell and back to Fucking Awesome.

In “Push Me Shove You Oh Yeah Says Who,” photographer JACKIE NICKERSON, along with fashion editor Marc Goehring and 032c apparel creative director Maria Koch, presents a yogic meditation on a white collar dystopia.

“I’m very bad at killing, in general.” As an antidote to postmodern culinary mediocrity, artist CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us to his concrete perch on the seaside of Ghana and guides us through the 11 points of his “Brutalist Kitchen Manifesto.”

In the “SSENSE Files,” we bring you scenes of cross-platform madness, including interviews with RICARDO BOFILL, PLAYBOI CARTI, CHITOSE ABE, CHRIS KRAUS, HENRY STAMBLER, AMINA BLUE, and 69.

In our second-ever “BERLIN REVIEW” section, we speak with JEFF KOONS about Plato, retrace MARTIN MARGIELA’s reign at Hermès, dive to the underwater tombs of PHARAOHS, and explore our favorite books of the season.

All this and more on 296 pages!