Lot 235
  • 235

ICHWAN NOOR | Beetle Sphere

480,000 - 680,000 HKD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Beetle Sphere
  • Aluminum painted and original parts VW Beetle 1953, Edition of 5, Color: Black
  • 180 by 180 by 180 cm; 70 3/4  by 70 3/4  by 70 3/4  in. 


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence some light oxidation at the bonnet, but based on its position it is inherent to the work itself as it was present on the VW Beetle before the artist worked on the sculpture.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Unyielding yet malleable, familiar yet unrecognisable, Ichwan Noor’s fantastical spherical creation confronts and confounds. The artist, who dexterously constructs larger than life three-dimensional sculptures, is at the forefront of Indonesia’s contemporary art scene. With his mastery of technical skill, he experiments with an array of materials, such as bronze, stainless steel, aluminium, various used materials and resin, creating astoundingly transformational works. His influence ripples across local circles—many affectionately call him ‘The Maker’, due to his assistance and mentorship of other artists in Southeast Asia, and generous sharing of expert knowledge. The sculptor, who is now a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Yogyakarta, and was trained at the Indonesian Art Institute, Yogyakarta, has become most well-known for his extraordinary automobile-based sculptures, where he warps the iconic Volkswagen Beetle into flawless spheres and cubes.  

Beetle Sphere is a quintessential piece from Noor’s trailblazing work. A comparable work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. In the present lot, he takes the vehicle’s iconic contours and curves to the extreme—“I took the shape of the Volkswagen Beetle, which is an oval, and returned it to its basic shape, a sphere[1]. The work responds to the darker origins of the vehicle, one loaded with much historical value. It was supposedly conceived of by Adolf Hitler to be “the people’s car” (a literal translation of “Volkswagen”), and was subsequently mass-manufactured. Over the next few decades, its design remained virtually unchanged, and became etched into the hearts and minds of people across the globe. The distinctive rotundness of the vehicle is also a reason for Noor’s choice of vehicle. He explained, “people everywhere, across space and time, know the Beetle. I see the Volkswagen Beetle as one of the most successful designs, one that people will always be familiar with”.[2] However, the uncanny but compressed appearance of Beetle Sphere subverts such expectations, urging viewers to redefine their preconceived notions of an entity.


A painstaking, laborious process is required to achieve the final work of art. Noor is first required to carve a spherical polyurethane replica of the vehicle’s body and cast it in aluminium. This prevents damage from distorting a genuine car. A spherical interior is then made to complement the cast exterior. Finally, original car parts are furnished to complete the illusion. However, this is not the first time that Noor has explored the theme of transport—his older sculptures are an amalgamation of the synthetic and organic, featuring humans or animals with locomotive technological features. Yet, Beetle Sphere represents a breakthrough in Noor’s artistic direction, as he increasingly hones in on the man-made.


The sculptor’s refreshing depictions of the automobile has warranted much recognition. His work has been exhibited internationally, such as in Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy and the U.A.E. The first time he displayed one of his Beetle series at “Art Motoring: Motion and Reflection”, he won the award for Best Work, and subsequently received much public acclaim. Indeed, Beetle Sphere, in all its compressed, compact car glory, exemplifies the untraversed paths that Noor is charting.


[1] Serena Bentley, “An Interview with Ichwan Noor”, NGV, https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/an-interview-with-ichwan-noor/

[2] Ibid.