1975 - Alexander Calder - 3.0 CSL
The first BMW Art Car came about when French racing driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain invited his friend Alexander Calder to design a car and the result was a colourful BMW 3.0 CSL
race car that would celebrate its premiere at the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1975. Calder’s art car was one of his last works of art before he died in 1976.
1976 - Frank Stella - 3.0 CSL
The second BMW Art Car was conceived by the American Artist Frank Stella. The motorsports-fan from New York painted the bodywork of the 3.0 CSL
in his typical grid-like pattern inspired by technical graph-paper. Stella himself said about his artwork:“My design is like a blueprint transferred onto the bodywork.”
1977 - Roy Lichtenstein - 320i Turbo
Roy Lichtenstein was the next up in line to lay his hands on a BMW to turn it into a unique piece of art. The 320i
was driven by Poulain and Mignot at Le Mans 24-hour race. The artist explained: “I pondered on it for a long time and put as much into it as I possibly could.” The result of his deep thoughts was a grafic display of what is the essence of speed.
1979 - Andy Warhol - M1
Pop Art legend Warhol about his Art Car: "I tried to portray speed pictorially. If a car is moving really quickly, all the lines and colors are blurred." He was the first of the artists to paint directly on the real car, all other artist had used scale models. Reportedly, he only needed 23 minutes to paint the M1
and then ran his fingers through the paint to leave a personal touch. His comment on the final outcome:"I love the car; it's better than the work of art itself."
1982 - Ernst Fuchs - 635 CSi
In 1982 Ernst Fuchs created the 635 CSi
Art Car. His inspiration was a dream he had as little boy: "In the painting, I gave expression to various experiences, fears, desires and implorations, but also to free artistic creation. I call this car 'Firefox on Harehunt'. It represents a hare racing across a motorway at night and leaping over a burning car the - primeval fear and bold dream of surmounting a dimension in which we live."
1986 - Robert Rauschenberg - 635 CSi
Rauschenberg incorporated for the first time methods of photographic transfer to copy classic paintings onto his 635 CSI
Art Car. He commented the idea of the art cars as such: “I think mobile museums would be a good idea. This car is the fulfilment of my dream.”
1989 - Ken Done - M3
In 1989, Australian artist Ken Done was asked by the Australian BMW Motorsports division to create his vision of the M3
. His design merges the exotic colours and shapes associated with the Australian continent and the forms representing the dynamism and speed of the BMW M3 car.
1989 - Michael Jagamarra - M3
Also in 1989, another Australian artist turned to the BMW M3
and covered it in his Papunya art. The paintwork is reminiscent of the native Australian mythology and wildlife. Papunya paintings represent aerial views of landscapes that simultaneously embody Aboriginal religious myths, the so-called "dreamings".
1990 - Matazo Kayama - 535i
In 1990, Japanese artist Matazo Kayama was invited to re-design the BMW 535i. His approach was to merge the fascination for technology with a vision of the modern Japan.
He used airbrush techniques and combined them with classical Japanese crafts such as "Kirigane" (metal cutting) and "Arare" (foil impression) to cut out small pieces of silver, gold and aluminum foil and add them to the bodywork.
1990 - Cesar Manrique - 730i
When Cesar Manrique designed his BMW 730i, he wanted to "combine the notions of speed and aerodynamics with the concept of aesthetic appeal in one object."
This was achieved by the use of bright colours and shapes that reflect its gliding movements.
1991 - A. R. Penck - Z1
A.R. Penck was inspired by the technical design of the Z1
. The German artist contrasted the advanced technological design with signs recalling prehistoric cave paintings that are in fact ciphers to be decoded by the audience.
1991 - Esther Mahlangu - 525i
"My art has evolved from the tribal tradition of decorating our homes", said the South African painter Esther Mahlangu about her work. With the BMW 525i
Art Car, she wanted to link this traditional art to the modern appearance of the automobile and created the first African Art Car. Within a week, she transformed the 5 Series saloon into a masterpiece of African Ndebele art - and became the first woman amongst the BMW Art Car artists.
1992 - Sandro Chia - M3 GTR
Sandro Chia painted faces and a sea of vivid colors onto a prototype of a M3
GTR until the bodywork of the car was completely covered.
"The automobile is a sought-after possession in society", said Chia about his work. "All eyes are upon it. People look closely at cars. This car reflects their gaze."
1995 - David Hockney - 850
David Hockney’s 850 CSi
Art Car paints the inside of the car on the outside, revealing everything from internal engine parts to a dog in the back. "BMW gave me the model of the car and I kept looking at it and looking at it", says David Hockney on the creation process. "And then, I must admit, I also looked at the other Art Cars. In the end I thought, probably it would be good to perhaps show the car so you could be looking inside it. "
1999 - Jenny Holzer - V12 LMR
After a break in the 1980’s, the Art Car returned to Le Mans in 1999, with American concept artist Jenny Holzer. She covered the 15th Art Car, a V12 LMR
, with messages that she said "will probably never lose their relevance". Her word art works in the context in which it is presented: "You are so complex you don't respond to danger" - an accurate provocation when referring to motor racing.
2007 - Olafur Eliasson - H2R
“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.” said Olafur Eliasson about his Art Car H2R, which is the most unusual and conceptual design of all. He removed the car's body and replaced it with a skin made of steel mesh, reflective steel panels, and many layers of ice.
2009 - Robin Rhode - Z4
The South African street artist Robin Rhode, instead of painting the car as such, used the tyres of the BMW Z4
roadster to apply colourful designs to a giant canvas. Tyre tracks of precisely executed circles, arcs and lines in yellow, blue and red were the result. In this case, the car itself became the artist.
2010 - Jeff Koons - M3 GTR
“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy.” His perception of the cars is reflected in Koons artwork of bright colors that evoke power, motion and bursting energy. The Koons car
number, “79,” pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car. The Warhol car was assigned the number “76,” itself an homage to the 1976 Frank Stella car.