#BMWArtCars. Celebrating 40 years of ‘rolling sculptures’ – automobile, art, design & technology

Lichtenstein. Warhol. Koons. Stella. Calder. Rauschenberg. Holzer. Elíasson. Artists have always drawn inspiration from the thrill of speed, the phenomenon of mobility and racing cars as examples of modern sculpture.

Exactly 40 years ago in 1975, a BMW 3.0 CSL painted by Alexander Calder lined up for the Le Mans 24-hour race. And since then BMW Art Cars have enthralled art and design enthusiasts, as well as car and technology fans all around the world.

The idea behind the BMW Art Cars was the brainchild of French racing driver and art enthusiast Hervé Poulain when he asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to apply his creative talents to his race car. Together with Jochen Neerpasch, then BMW Motorsport Director, they conceptualized the first BMW Art Car and it became an instant crowd favorite on the race track. Ever since, new additions to the BMW Art Car Collection have been made at irregular intervals, with unique works of art from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney and Jeff Koons.

The anniversary celebrations got under way with exhibitions in Hong Kong, at the Centre Pompidou, the BMW Museum and the Concorso d’Eleganza at Lake Como, where the first four BMW Art Cars by Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, plus the M3 GT2 created by Jeff Koons, were all on display. Many other events are set to follow later in 2015 in New York, Miami and Shanghai.

Several ‘rolling sculptures’ are on display at the BMW Museum in Munich as part of its permanent collection and many BMW Art Cars are traveling the globe – to art fairs in Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong, as well as exhibitions at the Louvre, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Contemporary Art Shanghai. Track the conversation on social media under the hash tag #BMWArtCar.

A comprehensive 200-page richly illustrated publication on the BMW Art Cars was also published in 2014 by Hatje Cantz. The book reviews the history of this extraordinary collection of cars from its beginnings in 1975 and uses portraits and interviews to shed more light on the various artists’ themes and approaches. For more information click here.

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