Ever since a BMW 3.0 CSL painted by Alexander Calder lined up for the Le Mans 24-hour race 40 years ago, in 1975, the BMW Art Car Collection has fascinated art and design enthusiasts. as well as car and technology fans all around the world.
Since that first Calder car, artists including Lichtenstein, Warhol, Koons, Stella, Calder, Rauschenberg, Hockney and Elíasson have used BMW cars as their art palette, turning them into rolling sculptures.
BMW is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Art Cars with special exhibitions in Hong Kong, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the BMW Museum in BMW headquarters in Munich, and the Concorso d’Eleganza at Lake Como. The first four BMW Art Cars by Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, plus the M3 GT2 created by Jeff Koons, have been on display recently.
The BMW Art Cars will be on display in New York, Miami and Shanghai.
There are currently 17 BMW Art Cars. The idea behind the BMW Art Cars was French racing driver and art enthusiast Hervé Poulain, who asked artist friend Alexander Calder to apply his creative talents to his race car. Together with Jochen Neerpasch, then BMW Motorsport Director, the first BMW Art Car was born, and became an instant crowd’s favourite on the race track.
Since then, new additions to the BMW Art Car Collection have been made over the years at irregular intervals, with unique works of art from artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Jeff Koons.
The group of seventeen artists who have designed BMW models so far since 1975 is very international, and interest in the “rolling sculptures” has spread all around the world. Several cars are usually on display at the BMW Museum in Munich, home of the BMW Art Cars, as part of its permanent collection.
The remaining BMW Art Cars are travelling the globe – to art fairs in Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong, as well as exhibitions at the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai.
Here’s the complete list of the BMW Art Cars, several of which have been on the race track before heading to the museum:
- Alexander Calder (BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975),
- Frank Stella (BMW 3.0 CSL, 1976),
- Roy Lichtenstein (BMW 320 Group 5, 1977),
- Andy Warhol (BMW M1 Group 4, 1979),
- Ernst Fuchs (BMW 635CSi, 1982),
- Robert Rauschenberg (BMW 635CSi, 1986),
- Michael Jagamara Nelson (BMW M3 Group A, 1989),
- Ken Done (BMW M3 Group A, 1989), Matazo Kayama (BMW 535i, 1990),
- César Manrique (BMW 730i, 1990), A. R. Penck (BMW Z1, 1991),
- Esther Mahlangu (BMW 525i, 1991),
- Sandro Chia (BMW M3 GTR, 1992),
- David Hockney (BMW 850CSi, 1995),
- Jenny Holzer (BMW V12 LMR, 1999),
- Ólafur Elíasson (BMW H2R, 2007) and
- Jeff Koons (BMW M3 GT2, 2010).
BMW has published a 200-page book about the Art Cars, large and luscious with loads of high quality photos, the history of the collection, and interviews to shed more light on the themes and approaches of the various artists, each with a unique individual style. More information on the BMW Art Cars publication or via the hashtag #BMWArtCar.