cao fei and john baldessari to create BMW art car #18 and #19
cao fei and john baldessari to create BMW art car #18 and #19 cao fei and john baldessari to create BMW art car #18 and #19
jun 21, 2016

cao fei and john baldessari to create BMW art car #18 and #19

since 1975, internationally renowned creatives such as jenny holzer, olafur eliasson and jeff koons, have participated in the BMW art car project, artistically interpreting automobiles using BMW vehicles as a basis.


in november 2015 — on the occasion of the series’ 40th anniversary — it was announced that chinese artist cao fei and american artist john baldessari had been selected by a jury of distinguished museum directors and curators to create the 18th and 19th BMW art car. 

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cao fei will creatively represent the societal change happening in china



considered as the most important chinese contemporary artist, cao fei’s BMW art car #18 will creatively represent the societal change happening in her country — a theme she has explored throughout her career. furthermore, fei notes that the project will also be influenced by the pollution in beijing, where her studio is located.


‘the theme of this century is that we enter ‘a landscape of no man’s land’ — autonomous cars and aircrafts and virtual reality,’ said fei on some of the concepts her art car will address. ‘I expect to transcend the current context of ‘cars’ and to embrace new possible ways of expressions. to me, that not only includes the artist, but also the public.

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fei conducted intensive research at the BMW factories in shenyang, tiexi and munich



fei’s intensive research at the BMW factories in shenyang, tiexi and munich led to an engaged understanding of automobile manufacturing and production processes. the reliance on machines and robotics — which she described as a ‘modern dance’ — will be a topical source for her art car. these technological methods have also prompted fei to look towards her own artistic practice, which delves into a variety of themes and mediums, from pop culture and virtual reality, to film and performance art.


it is interesting to note that fei does not have a car, does not want to ever own a car and does not want to learn to drive. this will increase the focus of her project on the passenger and the driverless experience – one aspect that she believes will be key in the future of automobiles. after being driven around a racetrack in a BMW ‘M6’ and ‘M4 GTS’, she explained how passengers still get a feeling of power, highlighting how she doesn’t have to own a car to have this same experience.

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‘the racing experience will contribute to my creative ideas’ fei describes



for five decades, john baldessari has been surprising the world with his irreverent works. for the BMW art car #19, the artist will work with his trademark colors — red, yellow, blue and green — as well as his monochrome dots. ‘for me, the car is certainly an icon of contemporary life,’ he comments on the project. ‘I have done sculpture before, but it’s the first time I have ever, in a sense, collaborated. I didn’t design the car – I collaborated with the designers of the car. I think the challenge comes in making something that cannot be understood from just one point of view, but only from a total point of view. I figured my use of colored dots is kind of an iconic series, so I had to include that. I’m actually advertising myself.’

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john baldessari will be creating the 19th BMW art car



baldessari will leave his familiar colorful marks on the BMW M6 GTLM. with a keen interest in typography and minimalist applications of color, the artist’s trademark elements will make their way onto the race car. ‘I think I’ve only done one work of art involving a car in my life, and that was an image of a car,’ baldessari continues. ‘so for me it was unknown terrain that I ventured into with the BMW art car project.’


baldessari’s BMW art car #19 is scheduled for a world premiere in november 2016, whereas cao fei’s #18 will be revealed in spring 2017. after the 2016 BMW art cars make their world premiere, they will head to the racetracks: fei’s car will be part of a major race in asia, and baldessari’s vehicle will be featured at the ‘rolex 24 at daytona’ in the united states.

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baldassari with a scale model of his BMW art car 



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