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BMW Art Car

Coordinates: 48°10′35″N 11°33′33″E / 48.1765°N 11.5591°E / 48.1765; 11.5591
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The BMW Art Car Project was introduced by the French racecar driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who wanted to invite an artist to create a canvas on an automobile.

In 1975, Poulain commissioned American artist and friend Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car. This first example would be a BMW 3.0 CSL which Poulain himself would race in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.[1]

Since Calder's work of art, many other renowned artists throughout the world have created BMW Art Cars, including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. To date, a total of 20 BMW Art Cars, based on both racing and regular production vehicles, have been created. Frank Stella also made one unofficial art car at the behest of race car driver Peter Gregg. The most recent artist to the join BMW Art Car program is Cao Fei in 2017 with her M6. Artists for the BMW Art Car Project are chosen by a panel of international judges.

According to Thomas Girst, who has been in charge of the BMW Art Cars project since 2004, the purpose of the project has changed over time: "In the beginning the cars were raced. There wasn't much of a public relations effort around them... Since then, some of the Art Cars have been used in advertisements to show that BMW is a player in the arts. With the Eliason work, part of what we are doing is raising awareness of alternative and renewable energy sources."[2]

BMW Art Cars[edit]

No. Photo Artist Model Year
1 Alexander Calder 3.0 CSL 1975
2 Frank Stella 3.0 CSL 1976
3 Roy Lichtenstein 320 1977
4 Andy Warhol M1 Group 4 1979
5 Ernst Fuchs 635 CSi 1982
6 Robert Rauschenberg 635 CSi 1986
7 Michael Nelson Jagamarra M3 1989
8 Ken Done M3 Group A 1989
9 Matazo Kayama 535i 1990
10 César Manrique 730i 1990
11 A. R. Penck Z1 1991
12 Esther Mahlangu 525i 1991
13 Sandro Chia M3 DTM Prototype 1992
14 David Hockney 850CSi 1995
15 Jenny Holzer[3] V12 LMR 1999
16 Olafur Eliasson[4] H2R 2007
* Robin Rhode[5] Z4 2009
17 Jeff Koons[6][7] M3 GT2 2010
18 John Baldessari[8] M6 GTLM 2016
19 Cao Fei[9] M6 GT3** 2017
FUTURA 2000[10] M2 2020
Julie Mehretu M Hybrid V8 2024

* The 2009 project by Robin Rhode did not create an art car, but rather used a BMW Z4 driven over a giant canvas to create a work by applying paint with the car's tires.
** Car shown in the BMW Museum, without the original digital lighting enhancements that were part of the art.


Since 2003, BMW has released the Art Cars (at the time, this encompassed the entire series) as 1:18 scale miniature diecast.

They are sold in limited edition by BMW dealers and shops. All of them have an elegant acrylic display and a grey base, iconic package with red box and an "art car" booklet inside. The first two to be released were Alexander Calder's BMW 3.0 CSL and Jenny Holzer's BMW V12 LMR. Initially 3000 copies each were to be produced with an MSRP of $125 (now $145) each.[11] Nowadays there are 17 miniatures, but there are 19 Bmw art cars, simply of 2 there are no miniatures. Only the works of Olafur Eliasson and Cao Fei do not have official miniatures because they are conceptual works.[12]

Public display[edit]

In 2009, the Art Cars began a North American tour, starting at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from February 12–24. The second stop was in New York City from March 24 to April 6, in a special exhibit at Grand Central Terminal held in its Vanderbilt Hall.[13] The Cars were exhibited in México, first in MARCO, Monterrey, and later in Guadalajara and Mexico City.[14] In July 2012 a selection of the cars were presented by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in a Shoreditch car park as part of the London 2012 Festival, entitled Art Drive!.[15]

Unofficial BMW Art Cars[edit]

In addition to the work commissioned by BMW, other artists have created unofficial BMW art cars. In 1979 racing driver Peter Gregg purchased a BMW M1 Procar and commissioned his friend Frank Stella to paint it for him; this car is the only BMW painted by an artist who was also part of BMW's own Art Car program.[16] and was sold from the Guggenheim Museum to a BMW dealer in Long Island, New York in 2011.[17] The car is part of Stella's "Polar Coordinates" series, created to commemorate Stella's friend Ronnie Peterson who had died in a racing incident at Monza in 1978.[16][18] In 1987 Keith Haring painted a red BMW Z1 at Hans Mayer Gallery, Düsseldorf.[19] In 1996 Artist Dennis Simon was commissioned to create a BMW Motorsport tribute on the flanks of a 1965 BMW 1800 Ti/SA for BMW's 80th birthday at the Monterey Historics in Laguna Seca, CA. In 2007, Portland's Museum of Contemporary Craft commissioned artist Tom Cramer to paint a 1977 BMW 320i for their grand opening at the DeSoto Building.[20][21] In 2016, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville commissioned artist Christie Chandler to paint a BMW X6 for their annual awards gala at TPC Sawgrass.[22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Welcome Home BMW Art Cars". en.bmw-art-cars.de. Archived from the original on August 22, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Preece, R.J. (June 11, 2009). 'Communicating BMW Art Cars: Interview with Thomas Girst.' ADP/Sculpture magazine. Retrieved October 18, 2009
  3. ^ BMW V12 LMR - Jenny Holzer 1999 photo gallery, BMWDrives.com, 2007, archived from the original on 2019-02-23, retrieved 2010-06-03
  4. ^ "BMW Release Plans For 16th Art Car (press release)", Motor Trend, archived from the original on 2011-06-29, retrieved 2010-06-03
  5. ^ BMW Z4 art car - Robin Rhode 2009, BMWDrives.com, 2007, archived from the original on 2019-03-04, retrieved 2010-06-03
  6. ^ Peterson, Andrew (2 February 2010), "Artist Jeff Koons to Create A New BMW Art Car", Automobile, archived from the original on 6 February 2010, retrieved 2010-02-03
  7. ^ Migliore, Greg (2 June 2010), "New BMW Art Car, the 17th, revealed for Le Mans", Autoweek
  8. ^ "Exclusive: John Baldessari on designing the newest BMW art car." Tamara Warren. Verge. Vox. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  9. ^ "Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei creates BMW Art Car #18." Archived 2020-04-18 at the Wayback Machine CA Xuan Mai Ardia. Art Radar. 17 June 2017. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  10. ^ "BMW M2 by FUTURA 2000". www.bmw-m.com. Retrieved 2022-09-17.
  11. ^ 'BMW introduces scale models of art cars' Worldcarfans.com. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  12. ^ "Bmw Art Car Museum Edition -".
  13. ^ Joseph, Noah. (February 12, 2009). 'BMW's Art Cars start North American tour in Los Angeles' Autoblog.com. Retrieved June 18, 2009.
  14. ^ 'La colección de automóviles artísticos BMW Art Cars llega a México (in Spanish)' Retrieved June 5, 2009. Archived January 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ 'ART DRIVE! BMW ART CAR COLLECTION 1975–2010' Archived 2012-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b Patton, Phil (2011-05-09). "BMW M1, Painted by Frank Stella, Heading to Auction". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
  17. ^ "Frank Stella's BMW Art Car Sells to Private Collector". Gallerist. New York. 2011-10-03. Retrieved 2014-03-06.
  18. ^ "Stella Art Car To Go On Public Display At BMW Southampton". Hamptons.com. Hamptons Online. 2011-11-03. Archived from the original on 2014-03-07. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
  19. ^ "Haring im Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst Aachen". kunstmarkt.com (in German). 2000. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  20. ^ "DeSoto Project". portlandmercury.com. 2007. Retrieved 2023-06-12.
  21. ^ "Tom Cramer's old-school influence as a new-school creator". registerguard.com. 2019. Retrieved 2021-01-17.
  22. ^ "Tom Bush Art Car set for debut". jacksonville.com. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
  23. ^ "Bio | arts-evolution.com". Archived from the original on 2016-03-23.

External links[edit]

  • "BMW Art Car Tour". bmw-artcartour.com. Retrieved June 20, 2013. An overview of BMW Art Cars with videos and a lot of information.

48°10′35″N 11°33′33″E / 48.1765°N 11.5591°E / 48.1765; 11.5591