BMW art car collection at art drive! in londonBMW art car M3 GT2 by jeff koons image © designboom
art drive! BMW art car collection 1975-2010 july 21st – august 4th, 2012 great eastern street car park, shoreditch, london
the institute of contemporary arts (ICA) in london showcases the BMW art car collection, presented over six floors of the NCP car park on great eastern street in shoreditch which designboom visited this past weekend. this is the first occasion in which the vehicles are on show in the UK. the initiative began more than 35 years ago when french racing driver and auctioneer hervé poulain invited his friend alexander calder to design a car that married artistic excellence with ‘an already perfect object’. the resulting automobile would compete in the le mans 24-hour race in 1975 and hence the BMW art car was born. since then, other leading international artists have transformed BMW cars including: frank stella, roy lichtenstein, andy warhol, ernst fuchs, robert rauschenberg, m.j nelson, ken done, matazo kayama, cesar manrique, jeff koons, A.R. penck, esher mahlangu, sandro chia, jenny holzer and david hockney.
‘art drive! – BMW art car collection 1975-2010’ is presented in partnership with BMW, the mayor of london and the london 2012 festival and will be on show until august 4th, 2012.
front view of koons’ design image © designboom
BMW art car M3 GT2 by jeff koons, 2010
the last car to join the collection is that by american artist jeff koons. as part of his creative process, the koons gathered images of race cars, related graphics and combined them with vibrant colors expressing speed and explosions, resulting in a vivid work which exudes the feeling of power, motion and bursting energy. the car’s silver interior in combination with its striking exterior imparts a dynamic appearance, even when it’s standing still. first premiered on june 2nd, 2010 at the centre pompidou, koons’s BMW art car went on to compete at the 24 hours of le mans on june 12th, 2010.
the car he designed has been driven by andy priaulx (GB), dirk müller (DE) and dirk werner (DE). it first started with the number 79 – atribute to andy warhol’s BMW art car from 1979 – but encountered technical problems and had to retire after only five hours of racing. ‘these race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy. you can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. there is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to connect with that power.’ – jeff koons
technical specs of koons’s BMW M3 GT2 – a 4.0-liter V8 engine – displacement: 3.999 cm – power output: 500 hp – top speed: 300 km/h
profile view image © designboom
detail of the graphic lines and bold colors which exude the sens of bursting energy image © designboom
thomas girst, BMW group corporate and intergovernmental affairs, head of cultural engagement with jeff koons’s BMW art car image © designboom
BMW art car 320 group 5 by roy lichtenstein, 1977 image © designboom
BMW art car 320 group 5 by roy lichtenstein, 1977
on his 1977 contribution to the collection, american pop artist roy lichtenstein said: ‘I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go. the design also shows the countryside through which the car has travelled. even the sky and the sunshine are present. one could call it an enumeration of everything a car experiences – only that this car reflects all of these things before actually having been on the road.’ lichtenstein combined these listed elements to create an almost abstract overall image. the painting on the car was transferred by varnishing expert walter maurer and BMW designer wolfgang seehaus over the course of six days and six nights, but because of the artist’s precision, looks as if it has been applied by machine. blue dots and stripes in sun yellow and black stand out from the white background, covering the vehicle in dynamic lines.
technical specs of lichtenstein’s 320 group 5: – 4-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,000 ccm – power output: 300 hp – top speed: 290 km/h
lichtenstein’s car features a rolling landscape which appears abstracted image © designboom
BMW art car M1 group 4 by andy warhol, 1979 image © designboom
BMW art car M1 group 4 by andy warhol, 1979
the fourth car of the BMW art car collection is that of american pop artist andy warhol, and is probably the most well-known piece of the group. warhol was the first artist to paint the entire vehicle single-handedly. his design features a BMW M1 saturated in paste-like colors: two red tones, one powerful and rich, the other heavy with hints of violet, the color of ripened grapes, which run over the driver’s side of the bonnet and roof. a green which is reminiscent of moss and forests decorates the bottom side section and the rear, while the hues which cover the passenger side are a pale yellow and sky blue, offering a lighter feeling. the divisions between the blocked tones are blurred having been overlapped, smudged and spread by hand. the thick layers of paint which coat the car have been applied in brushstrokes and warhol’s own fingers, giving it a more sculptural and expressive character.
technical specs of warhol’s M1 group 4: – 6-cylinder in.line engine – displacement: 3,498 ccm – power output: 470 hp – top speed: 310 km/h top speed paint has been applied thickly over the car’s surface, giving it a more sculptural character image © designboom
andy warhol hand-signed the car with his finger image © designboom
BMW art car by robert rauschenberg, 1986 image © designboom
BMW art car 635CSi by robert rauschenberg, 1986
with robert rauschenberg’s 1986 car, pop art came to a temporary end in the collection. the artist restricted his work to black and white using his designs to define various areas of the vehicle. for the first time, rauschenberg used reproductions of prominent masterpieces including those by agnolo bronzino and jean dominique ingres which he applied with an ‘image in an image’ approach. he used a photographic technology to generate the illustrations, his BMW art car being the first in which the graphics had been applied to a car with foil – he made a conscious effort not to apply the layers of paint in order that the surface remain smooth. each of the wheel covers are decorated by motifs derived from antique ornamental plates. overall, the american painter portrayed aspects from different eras of the western world: ancient rome, renaissance and classicism.
technical specs of rauschenberg’s BMW 635CSi: – 6 cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 3,430 ccm – power output: 185hp – top speed: 213 km/h
reproductions of masterpieces by such artists as agnolo bronzino and jean dominique ingres are featured on the car image © designboom
up close look at the car in which paint has been applied with foil image © designboom
BMW art car 535i by matazo kayama, 1990 image © designboom
BMW art car 535i by matazo kayama, 1990
the first asian artist to paint a BMW art car, matazo kayama wanted to ‘combine an element of traditional japanese art forms with an extremely modern art object.(…)’. his overall design is based on one of his earlier works whereby he covered the entire car in a stylized snow motif in such a way that it glistens as if sun is reflecting off of its surface. he used deep blue oil paints which he sprayed into rivers onto the silver BMW in a number of places, leaving each snowflake clearly visible through the layers. applied with an airbrush technique, the snowflake formation runs along the hood, widening towards the rear as though strong winds have scattered them over the car. amidst this, kayama has placed piece of silver, gold and aluminium foil which he cut in advance into squares and dots using the japanese art of ‘kirigane’ (metal cutting) and ‘arare’ (foil printing).
technical specs of kayama’s 535i: – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 3,430 cylinder capacity – power output: 211 hp – 231 km/h top speed
a stylized snow motif appears across the car image © designboom
BMW art car 635CSi by ernst fuchs, 1982 image © designboom
BMW art car 635CSi by ernst fuchs, 1982
austrian painter, sculptor, musician and architect ernst fuchs became the first european to paint a BMW art car after the american pop art artists in 1982. given a BMW 635 CSi – a vehicle from series production – he covered his canvas in wild bolts of lightning and moving flames. consisting of warm red tones combined with blue and yellow spread over the car’s deep black foundation, the resulting look features dramatic tongues of fire blazing from the engine and the four wheel covers, giving fuchs’s piece a strong sense of dynamism.
technical specs of fuchs’s 635CSi – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 3,430 ccm – power output: 218 hp – top speed: 229 km/h
wild bolts of lightning and moving flames give fuchs’s car a strong sense of dynamism image © designboom
BMW art car 525i by esther mahlangu, 1991 image © designboom
BMW art car 525i by esther mahlangu
south african artist esther mahlangu’s BMW art car expresses africa’s love for the arcane play of decoration and colors. mahlangu’s vehicle is covered in decorative bands of geometric forms – triangles, rectangles, diamonds and cross-shaped symbols. there is a complete absences of circles, ovals or any other curved configurations. the brightly colored panels – ochre, pink lavender, turquoise and light blue, with accents of deep orange, green apple and blood red – are anchored by a fixed structure of white frames with black edging. the patterns depicted bring forth the art of the ndebele tribe – of which mahlangu is a member – to the broader public.
technical specs of mahlangu’s 525i: – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,494 ccm – power output: 192 hp – top speed: 225 km/h
decorative bands of brightly colored panels of ochre, pink lavender, and turquoise image © designboom
BMW art car M3 group A race version by ken done, 1989 image © designboom
BMW art car M3 group A race version by ken done
wanting to express his native homeland with his BMW art car, ken done knew he had to give his work something that was ‘typically australian’. influenced by what he saw in warhol’s 1979 version, done wanted his design to exude the feeling of ‘speed’ and of course, ‘australia’. he chose to depict an abstract portrayal of parrots and parrottfish, two animals that are very popular ‘down under’. though he used templates for some of the shapes, for the most part, done painted the automobile by hand, executing a gradient which ranges in color from warm yellows and reds on the hood, moving into cooler hues of blues and violet tones along the body of the car, finishing in black at the rear. blue and green tones are meant to symbolize the abstract motif of parrottfish and their rapid zigzag movements in water.
technical specs of done’s M3 group A race version: – 4-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,322 ccm – power output: 300 hp – top speed: 280 km/h
done has painted an abstract motif which is meant to represent parrottfish and their rapid zigzag movements in water image © designboom
BMW art car 850CSi by david hockney 1995 image © designboom
BMW art car 850 CSi by david hockney, 1995
the master of perspectives, for a long time british artist david hockney resisted creating an art car as he felt he was not ready. finally in 1995 he took on the challenge, whereby he turned the car ‘inside out’ putting the technology of the BMW 850CSi on the exterior of the vehicle, making the bodywork seem transparent. ‘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, the engine, tires, seats and that sort of thing,’ hockney explained. on the hood, he painted parts of the 380 hp 12-cylinder engine: large grey cylinders and huge round intake manifolds. he stretched stylized tyre treads, executed in black and white beyond the wheel arches, making it seem as if you are looking down through the metal from above. on the driver’s side, there is the silhouette of a human figure also in black and white, as if the shadow of the driver is on a canvas screen. on the passenger side, roof and trunk, hockney has depicted a landscape in which we see a short stretch of grey road and a lot of green, the lushness of california’s trees.
technical specs of hockney’s 850CSi: – V-12 cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 5,576 ccm – power output: 372 hp – top speed: 248 km/h
the car appears to have been turned ‘inside out’ image © designboom
BMW art car Z1 by A.R. penck, 1991 image © designboom
BMW art car Z1 by A.R. penck, 1991
for his car, german artist A.R. penck received a BMW Z1 in top red in which he has applied his art-language in thick black paint, covering the entirety of the roadster with abstract signs, symbols and archaic representations of animals. a stick man flaunts himself on the hood of the vehicle, while there is a crocodile on the passenger side with a predatory beast situated above. a peace sign, two eyes which look seriously and a number of snakes stand in as symbols of nature. on the retractable driver’s door an archaic stick hunts an ‘X’ – the X-hunter being a favorite of penck’s motifs.
technical specs of penck’s Z1: – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,494 ccm – power output: 170 hp – top speed: 225 km/h
penck’s top speed red car is covered in abstract signs and symbols as well as archaic representations of animals image © designboom
BMW art car by sandro chia (3 series race car), 1992 image © designboom
BMW art car 3 series racing touring car prototype by sandro chia
unlike other artists, chia took it upon himself to approach BMW, offering to design an art car. the entire body’s surface is enveloped in disembodied and genderless faces, a theme which runs throughout his work, which have been rendered in colored lines. they peer out at the observer from the green, yellow, red, brown and blue undergrowth of squares, lines, circles, waves and streaks which chia had conjured on the body: mute, observant, solemn, sad, bitter, maybe cheerful – the expressions unfathomable.
‘I think that cars, especially BMW’s, are desirable objects. they are not only made for driving but also to be seen on the street. this car here, whose surface I have designed, reflects the gazes. it meets the people who look at it like a mirror. you can see the beauty of the care and yourself reflected in the surface. it is an interchange of beauty.’ – sandro chia
faces, a common theme in chia’s work, cover the entirety of his BMW art car image © designboom
BMW art car M3 by michael jagamara nelson, 1989 image © designboom
BMW art car BMW M3 group A race version by michael jagamara nelson, 1989
‘the car is a landscape, like you’d see from a plane – I included the water, the kangaroo and the opossum,’ says australian artist michael jagamara nelson of his BMW art car. the first second-hand vehicle in the collection, the 300hp BMW M3 racing car from BMW australia that nelson received as his three-dimensional canvas had already won the AMSCAR championships down under. after two weeks of working it was transformed into a masterpiece of aboriginal art in which nelson, using fine brush strokes and dots, illustrated stories and myths he had learned from his father as a young boy. across the vehicle caves, kangaroos, snakes, and lightning flashes appear – all encoded. through his piece, nelson carries on the traditions of his culture with his own signature aesthetic. we see vivid colors, occasional elements such as wavy lines or concentric circles – together they look like a landscape photographed from the air. though the design may seem incomprehensible at first, it invites viewers to engage in a dialogue between modern automobile and one of the oldest human cultures.
technical specs of nelson’s BMW M3 group A race version: – 4-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,332 ccm – power output: 300 hp – top speed: 280 km/h
BMW art car 730i by césar manrique, 1990 image © designboom
BMW art car 730i by césar manrique, 1990
spanish artist césar manrique applied his bold use of colors to his BMW 730i art car in the form of abstract patterns – waves, circles and spots – captured in white, red, lilac, green and black. the curving lines which manrique has created complement the shapes of the vehicle. ‘a car is for getting quickly from one place to another. and when I think of speed, I immediately think of butterflies and dragonflies. my idea was to design the BMW in such a way to give the impression of it effortlessly gliding without any resistance.’ – césar manrique
technical specs of manrique’s 730i: – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 2,986 ccm – power output: 188 hp – top speed: 222 km/h
abstract patterns and bold colors, signature to manrique’s work, cover his art car image © designboom
BMW art car 3.0 CSL by alexander calder, 1975 image © designboom
BMW art car M1 group 4 by andy warhol, 1979
the first of the BMW art car collection was the concept of french man hervé poulain, who asked his good friend alexander calder to design the first of what would become an ongoing initiative. it had always been poulain’s wish as an auctioneer and passionate racing driver to add ‘artistic beauty to an already perfect object such as a racing car‘. the brightly painted art car by the american artist is covered in a geometric abstract pattern rendered in primary colors.
technical specs of calder’s 3.0 CSL: – 6-cylinder in-line engine – displacement: 3,210 ccm – power output: 430 hp – top speed: 270 km/ h
BMW art car 3.0 CSL by frank stella, 1976 image © designboom
BMW art car 3.0 CSL by frank stella, 1976
american abstract expressionist and minimalist artist frank stella’s 1976 car is a ‘blueprint transferred onto the body’ of a BMW 3.0 CSL. the design is composed of tiny boxes – bundled into 10 x 10 square – surrounded by a thicker frame. on top of this grid, thicker black lines have been painted which are like sewing pattern marks, stretched over the body which pay no attention to the actual shapes of the car itself. the graphic image suggests that one could cut out these forms and put them together again in a new way and is reminiscent of the templates used by engineers in technical drawings before the introduction of computers, offering an aesthetic expression of technology.
technical specs of stella’s 3.0 CSL: – 6-cylinder in-line engine with turbocharger – displacement: 3,210 ccm – power output: 750 hp – top speed: 341 km/h
the grid graphic offers an aesthetic expression of technology image © designboom
BMW art car V12 LMR by jenny holzer, 1999 ‘protect me from what I want’ is painted along the front and rear of the car (only front visible in this photo) image © designboom
BMW art car V12 LMR by jenny holzer, 1999
focusing on the reception of the written word at high speeds, american contemporary artist jenny holzer’s 1999 art car is covered in white paint in which she has featured several phrases: ‘the unattainable is invariable attractive’; ‘lack of charisma can be fatal’; ‘monomania is a prerequisite of success’; ‘you are so complex you don’t respond to danger’; ‘what urge will save us now that sex won’t’; and ‘protect me from what I want’. her piece is characterized by a marked sense of minimalism compared with the bright colors usually seen in the world of motorsport, the sentences written across the vehicle an expression of her thoughts on the racing sport.
‘the intoxication of motorized speed appears to be every bit as strong as sexual fulfillment.’ – jenny holzer
technical specs of holzer’s V12 LMR: – 12-cylinder V naturally aspirated engine – displacement: 5,990.5 ccm – power output: maximum 580 hp – top speed: approximately 340 km/h
‘what urge will save us now that sex won’t?’ inscribed on the headrest image © designboom
‘you are so complex you don’t respond to danger’ side paneling image © designboom
great eastern street car park, shoreditch, london image © designboom
BMW ART CAR (12)
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