De Maria had begun the Truck Trilogy
while he was working on another automobile installation, The Bel Air Trilogy
(2000–11). For that work, the artist bought three 1955 Chevy Bel Air sedans, stripped them down to their simplest forms, removing parts like rear view mirrors and windshield wipers, and restored the cars to their former glory. His major intervention was to skewer each car with a signature, stainless steel rod. The slick, shiny red-and-white cars were the focal point of an exhibition at the Menil Collection
in Houston in 2011, and were later bought by the Prada Foundation.
With Truck Trilogy, he chose to employ another classic Chevy, using the pickup as a pedestal for stainless steel rods—each truck would contain three vertical rods, one circle, one triangle, and one square. He began to seek out models made between 1950 and 1955, and found three to his liking: a green one, found in Texas, and a red and a black one, both found in Kansas, and purchased from the same seller.
Before dying, De Maria had completed most of the process of stripping down the trucks. After his death, the sculptural vehicles were in his studio, and they remained in a state of limbo until 2014, when the building was sold, and the estate needed to vacate the premises. They were initially put into storage at Dia: Beacon, but once plans were put into action to complete them, they were moved to Archive Fine Art’s production studio in Saugerties, New York.
There, fabricators were charged with picking up where De Maria left off. The ultimate vision the artist had was to restore the cars to their original prime, and to refine them to their essential form. They finished up the modifications to the exteriors and did some work on the interiors, sourced original hubcaps, and repainted the cars, using the original hues.