Geo Ham is regarded as one of the world’s finest automotive artists, and although he had no descendants to carry on the family name, he left behind a legacy of paintings and posters that will immortalize him forever.
Born in 1900 as George Hamel, he later became known as Geo Ham. His work is noted for its technical accuracy and painstaking reality. An automotive enthusiast and part time racing driver, Ham duplicated the precise position of every component of the automobile, and often exaggerated details to simulate movement. Along with watercolor and gouache paintings, Ham sketched many caricatures depicting the personality of the drivers and their automobiles.
He competed in the 1934 Le Mans race in a 2 liter Derby, and although fuel problems forced him to withdrawal it enabled him to capture more of the essence of the race.
Early in his career, Ham was commissioned by Benjamin, the French cycle-car manufacturer, to illustrate its catalogue. From 1927 to 1940, his work was featured in France’s leading pictorial magazine, L’illustration. In the 1930’s and 50’s, his work was unfurled in posters he created for the Grand Prix of Monaco, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and every other race track in France. In addition, in a series of watercolors for a limited-edition book by Roger Labric, Ham recounted the history of Le Mans. Many of the original paintings are on display in the offices of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.