Blank Canvas BMWs Inspire Intriguing Art
As far as blank canvasses go, there’s no more of an intriguing tabula rasa than a brand-new, all-white racing BMW. Box flares, aerodynamic devices, air intakes, and wildly varying surface shapes and sizes make for an interesting and challenging way for an artist to express what is usually limited to only two dimensions on three, and in the process shedding a new light on familiar themes and painting styles.
The very first Art Car was a 3.0 CSL commissioned by French racer and art auctioneer Hervé Poulain, painted by famed mobile artist and metal sculptor Alexander Calder in 1975. Poulain drove the car in that year’s Le Mans 24 Hour, and the huge publicity it gained caused a stir among both the art community and within BMW themselves, who recognized a fantastic and unique promotional opportunity.
In total, 17 BMW’s have been made into Art Cars, with notable examples painted by Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol, who declined the use of a scale model on which to practice and instead painted directly onto his M1 with large brushes dipped directly into cans of pigment—he took 23 minutes from start to finish.
Though the focus behind the Art Car project has shifted slightly over the years to include road as well as race models, the idea remains the same—mutual celebration of the arts and Munich’s best driving machines.