BMW’s 20 art cars: when art meets automobiles

Everything started in 1975 with Calder and today the series boasts 20 vehicles custom designed by world-renowned artists. Here they are, one by one, starting from the very famous car designed by Andy Warhol.

How many times, closely observing the timeless lines of a classic car or supercar, have we told ourselves that it was a work of art? And at the end of the day, often that is indeed the case: automotive history is scattered with pieces that stand out for their very high historical and motorsports value and that, for one reason or another, become objects that could be displayed in an art gallery or museum. This has indeed happened often, just think of the exhibition on Ferrari that the MoMa in New York – we mentioned it when talking about the 5 most iconic designs of the Maranello-based company. One model in particular was even recognized as a work of art, the 1962 250 GTO.

When associating art and automotive, however, any self-respecting true four-wheel enthusiast cannot avoid deviating, with extreme confidence, towards the BMW Art Cars project. Everything started back in 1975, when pilot and auctioneer Hervé Poulain hired the great America artist Alexander Calder to paint what would become the first BMW Art Car – it was a 3.0 CSL, which good old Poulain used at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that same year.

Aftter Calder, many famous artists were involved in the project: Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ernst Fuchs, Robert Rauschenberg, Michael Nelson Jagamarra, Ken Done, Matazo Kayama, César Manrique, A. R. Penck, Esther Mahlangu, Sandro Chia, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Ólafur Elíasson, Robin Rhode, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, and Cai Fei. The latest piece of the series, that today boasts 20 units, was presented last June and was designed by Julie Mehretu.

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