Zundfolge / BMW History

BMW Art Car Collection

By David Lightfoot | February 8th, 2017
Group photo of five BMW Art CarsGroup photo of five BMW Art Cars

BMW sees the Art Car Collection as an unusual way of combining the worlds of technology and art--technical and artistic creativity merge in each Art Car. The Collection also allows BMW to stay on the cutting edge of culture, just as it stays on the cutting edge of technology.

The Collection is the responsibility of Thomas Girst, who is charged with BMW’s engagement in the arts. Girst is part of the Marketing Department.

The first four BMW Art Cars were race cars, starting in 1975. Then there was a period of using street cars, with a few race cars thrown in.

BMW gives the artist free rein in what he or she does with their car. Usually that has worked out well. The Eliasson car, based on the H2R hydrogen record car, was rendered a static exhibit by the Icelandic artist. It also must be shown in a walk-in freezer, making it difficult to exhibit.

Since then, BMW has required the artists to not make changes that would disqualify their car from racing in the intended class. That worked fine for the Koons effort and the 19th car by John Baldessari. The car by Cao Fei was basically unaltered, that is, she didn’t paint it at all. She developed a virtual reality software that created virtual fireworks around the car, but in-person, it’s just painted black. The Fei car is the last Art Car created, although it is numbered 18th in the series. This is probably due to the number 8 being lucky in Chinese culture. The Baldessari car debuted almost a year before the Fei car but is officially the 19th BMW Art Car.

Calder BMW Art CarCalder BMW Art Car1. Alexander Calder, American, 1975 3.0CSL

Stella BMW Art CarStella BMW Art Car2. Frank Stella, American, 1975 3.0CSL

Lichtenstein BMW Art CarLichtenstein BMW Art Car3. Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1977 320i Group 5

Warhol BMW Art CarWarhol BMW Art Car4. Andy Warhol, American, 1979 M1 Group 4

Fuchs BMW Art CarFuchs BMW Art Car5. Ernst Fuchs, Austrian, 1982 635CSi

Rauschenberg BMW Art CarRauschenberg BMW Art Car6. Robert Rauschenberg, American, 1986 635Csi

Nelson BMW Art CarNelson BMW Art Car7. Michael Jagamara Nelson, Australian, 1989 M3 Group A

Done BMW Art CarDone BMW Art Car8. Ken Done, Australian, 1989 M3 Group A

Kayama BMW Art CarKayama BMW Art Car9. Matazo Kayama, Japanese, 1990 535i

Manrique BMW Art CarManrique BMW Art Car10. Cesar Manrique, Spanish, 1990 730i

Penck BMW Art CarPenck BMW Art Car11. A. R. Penck, German, 1991 Z1

Mahlangu BMW Art CarMahlangu BMW Art Car12. Esther Mahlangu, South African, 1991 525i

Chia BMW Art CarChia BMW Art Car13. Sandro Chia, Italian, 1992 3 Series Racing Prototype

Hockney BMW Art CarHockney BMW Art Car14. David Hockney, British, 1995 850CSi

Holzer BMW Art CarHolzer BMW Art Car15. Jenny Holzer, American, 1999 V12 LMR

Eliasson BMW Art CarEliasson BMW Art Car16. Olafur Eliasson, Icelander, 2005 H2R Hydrogen Record Car

Koons BMW Art CarKoons BMW Art Car17. Jeff Koons, American, 2010 BMW M3 GT2

Fei BMW Art CarFei BMW Art Car18. Cao Fei, Chinese, 2017 M6 GT3

Baldessari BMW Art CarBaldessari BMW Art Car19. John Baldessari, American, 2017 M6 GT3

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