Hervé Poulain, a French race car driver and auctioneer, introduced the concept of The BMW Art Car Project in the early 1970's. His idea was to invite an artist who would turn a mere car into a work of art. By 1975, the project took off and he recruited Alexander Calder, both a friend and an American artist, to be the first in line to paint the first of many BMW art cars. The first model was to be a BMW 3.0 CLS that Poulain would take to the tracks for the 1975 Le Mans endurance race. Following Andrew Calder’s three-dimensional work of art on wheels, numerous well-known artists from all over the world took part in the project, including Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Frank Stella, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Eliasson, Robert Rauschenberg, Robin Rhode, and Roy Lichtenstein. These artists have been chosen carefully by a panel of international judges.
To date, between race cars and production vehicles, there are a total of seventeen BMW’s that have been turned into works of art and are officially included in the BMW Art Cars Project. Over the years, the project’s mission has evolved. It began as a creative endeavour solely for race cars, void of any public relations efforts. However, since the creation of the BMW Art Cars Project, it has developed tremendously, in which some of the vehicles are now used as a promotional mechanism of the company’s artistry, creativity, and commitment towards alternative and renewable energy sources.
10 BMW 3.0 CSL: Andrew Calder, 1975
9 BMW 3.0 CSL: Frank Stella, 1976
8 BMW 320i Turbo: Roy Lichtenstein, 1977
7 BMW M1 Group 4: Andy Warhol, 1979
6 BMW 635CSi: Robert Rauschenberg, 1986
5 BMW 850 CSi: David Hockney, 1995
4 BMW V12 LMR: Jenny Holzer, 1999
3 BMW H2R: Olafur Eliasson, 2007
2 BMW Z4: Robin Rhode, 2009
1 BMW M3 GT2: Jeff Koons, 2010
The M3 GT2, the latest model in the BMW Art Car series, is highly acclaimed and pays great tribute to Andy Warhol’s M1 masterpiece of 1979, by bearing the racing number 79 on its side. The vivid colours that dash along the body of the car demonstrate a powerful sense of energy and supersonic acceleration, without interfering with the race car’s aerodynamics and weight. Under the hood is a 4.0-litre V8 engine that can produce 500-horsepower and a top speed of 186 miles per hour. As one of the world’s most thriving concept artists, Koons successfully created a piece that exemplifies its bursting energy, even when standing still.
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