Car Reviews

BMW Meets Fine Art

In celebration of the 35th anniversary of the BMW Art Car program, renowned artist Jeff Koons shared his conceptual artwork (left) for what will soon be the newest addition to the BMW Art Car Collection.

His kinetic artistry will soon adorn the 17th BMW Art Car, which will race during the grueling 24 Hour Le Mans later this year.

In order to be prepared for any potential racing mishaps, Koons and the design team at BMW will have to create three identical cars … just in case.

How did this all get started?  Well, it was French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain who first had the idea of asking an artist to paint a BMW.

Taking the initiative in 1975, American artist Alexander Calder painted a BMW racing car, laying the foundation for the BMW Art Car experiment.  A year later, New York artist Frank Stella covered a BMW with a grid-like pattern. He was followed by a series of pop artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Apart from Rauschenberg’s Art Car, all of these stunningly unique rides took part in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

In the 1980’s the Art Car collection become more varied in character: artists of other nationalities and with different styles joined the group – the Austrian Ernst Fuchs, the Australians Ken Done and Michael Jagamara Nelson, the Japanese Matazo Kayama and the Spaniard César Manrique.  The range of models selected as Art Cars was also increased, with series-production vehicles being painted in addition to racing cars. A famous example is the red BMW Z1 painted by A.R. Penck in Spring 1991, the first German Art Car artist.

BMW Art Cars have been admired in numerous museums and galleries all over the world:  in the Louvre in Paris, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, to name but a few.  In 2006, art cars were sent on an extensive tour through Asia, which took them to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Korea and China.  They also travelled to Australia, India, Russia and Africa.  Between 2007 and 2010 they will be exhibited at museums in Turkey and the USA before returning to Europe.

Treat your eyes to some car candy with these editions to the BMW Car Art collection:

Frank Stella, 1976


Roy’s Lichtenstein, 1977

Andy Warhol, 1979

Alexander Calder’s 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975

CLICK HERE to see more pics from the launch event!


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