Målning av en cadillac. John E Franzén, Cadillac Eldorado

Cadillac Eldorado

A Modern Classic gets New Lease of Life. 

John-E Franzén is the cult artist who is impossible to pigeonhole. One of his most famous paintings, Cadillac Eldorado, hung in the entrance of the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) at Lund University for almost 50 years.  

“Perhaps this is the painting’s last road trip. It’s a rather unique painting for its time. I don’t think there is anything like it,” artist John-E Franzén says. 

Från hippie till legend

När den legendariska utställningen ”Amerikansk popkonst – 106 former av kärlek och förtvivlan” växte fram på Moderna Museet i början av 1964 följde konststudenten John E Franzén bygget genom ett fönster på Kungl. Konsthögskolan. Barndomens fascination för amerikansk fordonskultur väcktes till liv.

Två år senare flyttade han med sin familj till Kalifornien. De sveptes med i hippie- och bikerkulturen. Han körde hoj. Målade. Livet präglade motiven. Det var slutet på 60-talet, en höjdpunkt inom hippievågen i USA.
I dag är John E Franzén, 74 år, själv en legend. Hans realistiska målningar av amerikansk subkultur har blivit moderna klassiker. Han bor på Österlen i Skåne och har under hela sin 60-åriga karriär gått efter sitt eget huvud. Värnat om sin integritet. Haft ett stort antal utställningar, mer sällan på senare år.

From Hippie to Legend 

When the legendary exhibition Amerikansk popkonst – 106 former av kärlek och förtvivlan [American Pop Art – 106 Forms of Love and Desperation] was being installed at Moderna Museet in Stockholm at the beginning of 1964, art student John-E Franzén watched the process from a window of the Royal Institute of Art. A childhood fascination for American car culture was brought to life. 

Two years later he and his family moved to California and were swept up in the hippie and biker culture. He rode a motorcycle. He painted. He drew his subject matter from life itself. It was the end of the 1960s, the apex of the US hippie culture. Today John-E Franzén is 74 and a legend. His realistic paintings depicting American subcultures have become modern classics. He lives in Österlen in Skåne and throughout his 60-year career he has always gone his own way, always defended his integrity. He has held a large number of exhibitions, although less frequently in recent years. 

Cadillac Eldorado 

Cadillac Eldorado is one of John-E Franzén’s most important works. The legendary art critic Ulf Linde described the painting as “a euphoric daydream of male power and female libido”. And, certainly, the work radiates a mixture of sensuality and acquisitiveness, in which the American luxury car lustfully stretches out in widescreen format. John-E Franzén took the rolled-up painting with him to the United States, stopping over in France and Germany. The painting was completed for his graduation exhibition in 1965. Today it is valued at 17 million SEK (ca 1.7 million euro). 


For almost 50 years students and staff at LTH were able to study the painting close up. It was acquired by Public Art Agency Sweden in 1967 and installed in the entrance of the LTH. Over the years the painting has become stained, cracked and suffered colour loss. Public Art Agency Sweden decided that Cadillac Eldorado needed to undergo conservation to prevent further damage. 

Cultural Heritage for the Future 

Currently Cadillac Eldorado is at Moderna Museet in Stockholm undergoing conservation work in order to preserve the structure of the painting. Estimated to take some 10-12 months before it can be publicly displayed again, the painting is now part of the collection of Moderna Museet, making it accessible to more people, via exhibitions at Moderna Museet in Malmö and Stockholm. At LTH, a digitally printed copy of the work, which, according to the artist, is very close to the original, will be displayed. 

Intervju med John E Franzén om verket Cadillac Eldorado Photography: Ricard Estay

Find the artwork

Lunds Tekniska Högskola, Hösten 2016
John Ericssons väg 1, Lund, Sverige