BMW Art Cars

BMW ART CARS.

The BMW Art Car Collection is a compilation of “rolling masterpieces” created by leading artists from around the world.

First introduced in 1975, the project began when French racecar driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain invited American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car: a BMW 3.0 CSL.

Since then, world-famous artists including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons and John Baldessari have each designed a one-off vehicle, giving rise to the BMW Art Car Collection.

#19 John Baldessari: BMW M6 GTLM (2016).

#19 John Baldessari:
BMW M6 GTLM (2016).

Los Angeles art scene legend John Baldessari drew on his famous artistic trademarks for his BMW Art Car. Baldessari turned to well-known stylistic devices and created an iconic work that unites his creative practices of the past fifty years in a unique manner.

Using red, yellow, blue, green and monochrome dots, he left his familiar colourful marks on the BMW M6 GTLM.

“For the BMW Art Car project, I entered uncharted territory, not just in terms of the subject, but also moving from two- to three-dimensional art."

#18 Cao Fei: BMW M6 GT3 (2017).

#18 CAO FEI:
BMW M6 GT3 (2017).

The youngest and first ever Chinese artist to create a BMW Art Car, multimedia artist Cao Fei addresses the future of mobility such as autonomous driving, airborne cars and digitalisation with her BMW M6 GT3.

"To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the #18 Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind."

#17 Jeff Koons: BMW M3 GT2 (2010).

#17 Jeff Koons:
BMW M3 GT2 (2010).

American artist Jeff Koons sees the BMW M3 GT2 with racing number 79 as a tribute to the BMW M1 designed by Andy Warhol in 1979.

As with Warhol’s BMW Art Car, Koons’ BMW also took part in the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race.

“These racing cars are like life itself, they are bursting with power and have tremendous energy. You can be drawn into it, build on it and unite with this energy.”


 

#16 Olafur Eliasson: BMW H2R (2007).

#16 Olafur Eliasson:
BMW H2R (2007).

Olafur Eliasson transformed a BMW H2R into a work of art reflecting themes of mobility, temporality, renewable energies and the relationship between car production and global warming.

Eliasson removed the outer covering of the prototype and replaced it with a skin of two reflecting layers of superimposed metal, before covering it with fragile layers of ice.

"By bringing together art, design, social and environmental issues, I hope to contribute to a different way of thinking-feeling-experiencing cars and seeing them in relation to the time and space in which we live."

#15 Jenny Holzer: BMW V12 LMR (1999).

#15 Jenny Holzer:
BMW V12 LMR (1999).

Like all BMW Art Cars, the BMW V12 LMR with its 380hp is both racing car and work of art. It provided an immediate demonstration of its performance at the 24-hour race in Le Mans. To avoid unnecessarily increasing the weight, Jenny Holzer used a lightweight foil for the lettering instead of chrome.

“Protect me from what I want.” This and other provocative messages characterise the Art Car by Jenny Holzer, the artist and critic.

#14 David Hockney: BMW 850 CSi (1995).

#14 DAVID HOCKNEY:
BMW 850 CSi (1995).

Over several months, Hockney turned the contents of the BMW 850 CSi inside out. The bonnet sports a stylised reproduction of the engine’s intake manifold, the driver is visible through the door, and a dachshund can be seen sitting on the back seat.

"BMW gave me a model of the car and I looked at it time and time again. Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to show the car as if one could see inside.”
 

#13 Sandro Chia: BMW 3 Series Racing Prototype (1992).

#13 Sandro Chia:
BMW 3 Series Racing Prototype (1992).

Through his artwork, Italian-born painter Sandro Chia brought a touring racing car prototype of the BMW 3 Series to life. The silhouettes and portraits on the paintwork are intended to prompt observers to look at themselves as if in a mirror.

"The car is a coveted object in our society. As such, it is exposed to many stares from observers. This car here reflects these stares."
 

#12 Esther Mahlangu: BMW 525i (1991).

#12 ESTHER MAHLANGU:
BMW 525i (1991).

South African artist Esther Mahlangu coated the bodywork of her BMW Art Car with the bright colours and ornamental shapes typical of her ethnic tribal Ndebele art.

The first BMW Art Car to have been signed by a woman, Esther Mahlangu passed on her tribe’s traditional means of expression to an object of contemporary technology.

“My art has evolved from the tribal tradition of decorating our homes. The patterns I have used on the BMW Art Car marry tradition to the essence of BMW.”

#11 A. R. Penck: BMW Z1 (1991).

#11 A. R. PENCK:
BMW Z1 (1991).

German artist A.R. Penck transformed a BMW Z1 into a work of art using symbols, images and his legendary stick figures.

Penck drew his inspiration from artists such as Picasso and Rembrandt, but also from cave paintings and his fascination with mathematics and physics.

“Art on art, art on technology, that grabbed my attention – particularly the idea of art on a 3D object.”


 

#10 Cesar Manrique: BMW 730i (1990).

#10 CESAR MANRIQUE:
BMW 730i (1990).

Spanish artist César Manrique sees cars as everyday objects that play an essential role in how the world around us looks. So the design for his BMW Art Car reflects the colourful splendour of his homeland.

Manrique also drew inspiration from his activities as a passionate conservationist so that his BMW Art Car embodied the harmony between technology and nature.

"My idea was to design the BMW in such a way as to give the impression of it effortlessly gliding without any resistance."

 

#09 Matazo Kayama: BMW 535i (1990).

#09 MATAZO KAYAMA:
BMW 535i (1990).

Matazo Kayama wanted to emphasise his fascination of BMW technology and create vivid associations with modern Japan. Using an airbrush technique, he intensified contrast and elegance by applying fine shades of blue to the silver bodywork.

Using intricate techniques such as ‘Kirigane’ (metal cutting) and ‘Arare’ (foil print), he cut out small pieces of silver, gold and aluminium foil and transferred them to the bodywork.

"I did not become fully aware of the BMW’s distinctive contours until after the car had been fully dressed in colour."

#08 Ken Done: BMW M3 (1989).

#08 Ken Done:
BMW M3 (1989).

Ken Done knew how he wanted to design his BMW Art Car from the beginning. He wanted it to express the fascination he held for the high-performance car, but it also had to represent his homeland Australia.

Done decided in favour of the exotic colours of parrots and parrot fish which, in his mind, had two characteristics shared with the BMW M3 – beauty and speed.

"I have painted parrots and parrot fish. Both are beautiful and move at an incredible speed. I wanted my BMW Art Car to express the same thing."

#07 Michael Jagamara Nelson: BMW M3 (1989).

#07 Michael Jagamara Nelson:
BMW M3 (1989).

In just seven days, Australian artist Michael Jagamara Nelson transformed a black BMW M3 into a Papunya work of art.

Papunya paintings embody religious myths passed on for thousands of years by generations of Aborigines in the form of rock and cave paintings. They constitute their cultural roots and are a source of inspiration for the future. The abstract-appearing geometric shapes reveal kangaroos or emus to the expert.

"A car is a landscape as it would be seen from a plane – I have included water, the kangaroo and the opossum."

#06 Robert Rauschenberg: BMW 635 CSi (1986).

#06 ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG:
BMW 635 CSi (1986).

Robert Rauschenberg uses his BMW Art Car to make his dream of a driveable museum come to life. The BMW 635CSi is the first BMW Art Car to have its bodywork decorated with photographic renderings.

The right-hand side bears the image of a painting by Ingres, while the left-hand side is adorned by one of Bronzino’s works surrounded by swamp grass in the Everglades. The hub caps have also been painted with images of ancient decorative plates.

"I think mobile museums would be a good idea. This car is the fulfilment of my dream."

#05 Ernst Fuchs: BMW 635i CSi (1982).

#05 ERNST FUCHS:
BMW 635i CSi (1982).

Austrian born Ernst Fuchs’ BMW Art Car represents two firsts: it was the first BMW Art Car to be created using a serial production BMW, as well as the first to be designed by a European artist.

Created for the “Art as illustration – illustration as art” exhibition, Fuchs ultimately projected his imagination upon the bodywork, which served as a screen.

"A machine should not be made to look better. It has its own aesthetics."

#04 Andy Warhol: BMW M1 (1979).

#04 Andy Warhol:
BMW M1 (1979).

This work of art on wheels was employed in racing for the first and last time in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in 1979.

Designed by Andy Warhol, the BMW M1 started on the grid with the number 76 and was driven by the German Manfred Winkelhock as well as Hervé Poulain and Marcel Mignot from France. They achieved a sixth place in the overall rating and second place in their class.

“I tried to portray a sense of speed. When a car is going really fast all the lines and colours become a blur.”

#03 Roy Lichtenstein: BMW 320i (1977).

#03 ROY LICHTENSTEIN:
BMW 320i (1977).

The third BMW Art Car is one of the most popular: the BMW 320i by Roy Lichtenstein. It harmoniously combines the aerodynamic requirements of the bodywork with the expressive work of this world-famous exponent of pop art.

Lichtenstein’s characteristic comic strip style is also reflected in the paintwork.

“The painted lines symbolise the road that the car has to follow and the artwork also portrays the surroundings through which the car is being driven.”

#02 Frank Stella: BMW 3.0 CSL (1976).

#02 Frank Stella:
BMW 3.0 CSL (1976).

In 1976 another BMW Art Car shot around the Le Mans race circuit at over 83mph. Despite the high level of anticipation generated in the art world by the first BMW Art Car, the BMW 3.0 CSL by Frank Stella satisfied all expectations.

Frank Stella devised a black and white design resembling oversize graph paper. Cut-out lines all over the bodywork intensify the geometric look of the car.

“My design is a kind of blueprint applied to the entire body of the car.”

#01 Alexander Calder: BMW 3.0 CSL (1975).

#01 Alexander Calder:
BMW 3.0 CSL (1975).

In 1975, Alexander Calder turned a BMW into a moving work of art for the first time. The BMW Art Car quickly caused a sensation: the uniquely painted BMW 3.0 CSL was entered for the 24-hour race in Le Mans where it brought its 480hp onto the track.

The US artist used only primary colours and distributed them in broad swathes across the paintwork of the BMW 3.0 CSL. The use of differing colours within the individual elements and shapes added to the illusion of movement within the picture as a whole.

"When everything is perfect, there is no fulfilment."