Artful Imagery: Cadillac’s Historic Goddess Viewed Through the Lens of Celebrated Photographers

Art and the automobile have been aesthetically intertwined for more than a century, and Cadillac is celebrating that link in a partnership with Artnet, curating a series of commissioned photographic works focused on the brand’s historic Goddess and the new bronze Goddess sculpture.

The curated collection features images of the historic 1933 Goddess ornament, as well as the new contemporary Goddess sculpture returning on the all-new Cadillac CELESTIQ ultra-luxury EV, interpreted by three renowned photographers: Petra Collins, Ming Smith and Dannielle Bowman.

Their works will be offered through an online auction presented by Artnet, with Cadillac donating all proceeds to Free Arts NYC — a non-profit organization that uses art to empower youth from underserved communities through art and mentoring programs, to develop their creativity, confidence and skills to succeed.

Artnet is the world’s largest platform for fine art and has revolutionized the way aficionados discover, research and collect art. It was founded in 1989 and has 55 million annual users.

“Automotive design has always been rooted in the importance of an artistic vision to create an emotional response,” said Bryan Nesbitt, executive director of Cadillac Design. “That’s what this series celebrates, as the iconic Cadillac Goddess was originally conceived nearly a century ago as an artful representation of the brand’s spirit and has been reintroduced on the all-new CELESTIQ ultra-luxury EV. Cadillac’s rich history and promising future continue to inspire.”

The images will be revealed at a private show hosted by Cadillac on Feb. 15. Each photographer will attend to discuss their work and the inspiration behind it. The panel discussion will be featured on Artnet’s podcast, “The Art Angle,” and the event will also feature an exclusive, VIP gallery exhibit of the images for prospective bidders.

The reveal and panel discussion coincide with activities surrounding Frieze Los Angeles, an international art fair focused largely on contemporary art.

About the artists

The three photographers providing their interpretations of the Goddess bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to the project, with each chosen for their unique and distinctive translations of vision through the lens.

Petra Collins is a multi-talented artist and director whose photography set the stylistic tone for much of the 2010s. Shooting since the age of 15, her work is fueled by self-discovery and contemporary femininity, which explores the complex intersection of life as a young woman online and off. Collins’ work weaves together inspiration from the art, fashion, film and music worlds.

Ming Smith’s practice is a tale of five decades spent examining transitory occurrence — intervals at which figures blur, atmospheres alter, vistas haunt, souls whir, and opposites engage in allied work. Smith’s photographic approach is both scientific and celestial, and experimentation and adventure mark her fascination with detail as it stretches across form and mood. Her dedication to music, dance, and theater underlines the synergistic excellence that characterizes her secondary, if metaphoric, occupations as anthropologist, historian, and poet.

“This was one of the best shoots I’ve ever had,” said Smith. “For my reinterpretation of the Cadillac Goddess, I knew right away that I wanted to focus on Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth, justice, and balance. I was really in my element and channeled some of the goddess energy from the Cadillac Goddess. It was a very relaxed, spiritual time — which is when I do my best work.”

Dannielle Bowman is a photographer and filmmaker based in New York whose concepts and style change as she develops artistically — while always maintaining a sense of investigation in her work. Visually, Dannielle has been working in black and white for the last few years, which she says allows her to play with and push her images tonally.

“To me, the word ‘Goddess’ means a femme person in control of their own image,” said Bowman. “This was a great experience. I really like the pictures I created and I enjoyed learning a new way of working in the studio. I’m pretty excited about doing similar things.”

History of the Cadillac Goddess

The Cadillac Goddess was introduced in 1930, at the height of popularity for automotive mascots, which were viewed as symbols of style, elegance and prestige.

The Goddess’ depiction of femininity evolved over time, becoming more contemporary and interpretive, but always a distinctive, powerful form. Its first significant revision was introduced in 1933 and when launched, it exclusively adorned Cadillac’s incomparable V-16 models.

Its form was used on Cadillac models throughout the 1940s and into the mid-1950s — with a final appearance on the limited-production 1959 Eldorado Brougham. More than six decades later, the Goddess returns to inspire the next generation of Cadillac cars, as the brand reinvents itself for an EV future. It has taken a new form with the all-new CELESTIQ ultra-luxury EV1.

The 1933 Goddess was its inspiration, as a Cadillac artist focused on creating impressionistic wings and complex, flowing drapery that give the figure a sense of motion.

Today’s Goddess is found on the front quarter panel of the CELESTIQ and within the multi-function controller on the center console. The latter is composed of a combination of real metal and glass, housing the Goddess emblem in it.

About Free Arts NYC

All proceeds from The Goddess Collection auction will benefit Free Arts NYC. The organization is dedicated to leveling the playing field by providing access to high-quality, positive mentorship to more than 2,000 children and teens annually.

Free Arts NYC’s Teen Arts Program supports teens and young adults (ages 13-21) who are interested in exploring the arts academically and professionally. Young people are paired with long term, one-on-one mentors and are supported through three interdependent tracks to build their visual arts portfolios, including visiting creative companies and artists’ studios, participating in skill-building workshops and obtaining paid internships within the creative industry. This programming is aimed at building a more equitable space in the creative sector.

Bidding information

Go to to bid and discover more information about the photographs in the Goddess Collection.

1CELESTIQ will be produced in limited quantity and is available by inquiry only.