BMW’S Rolling Sculptures

Kickstarted in 1975, the German manufacturer’s Art Car project has involved a variety of artists, from Frank Calder and Andy Warhol to John Baldessari. Automobile enthusiasts might not necessarily be art aficionados, but almost all of them will be aware of the legendary and long-running BMW Art Car project. Over the years, a total of 19 Art Cars, both racing and regular production vehicles, have been created by famous artists. Here, we take a look at some of them.

BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupé by Jeff Koons, 2022

The most recent art car, unlike its predecessors who are mostly displayed in museums and at exhibitions, is The 8 X Jeff Koons that will have a limited edition run of 99 models. The rolling sculptures worked on by the American artist, known for his tongue-in-cheek sculptures and installations, feature a multilayer paint job   that takes about 250 hours by a team of 20. The comic book aesthetic of the car has found many fans, and the limited-edition model is already sold out.

Calder BMW Art Car (Artist’s Proof), 1975 / 2021

Conceived by BMW Group Classic for the Calder Foundation, the Artist’s Proof realizes Calder’s dream of creating his own example of the first BMW Art Car, operating as the kinetic work of art that the artist intended. It is important to note that the Artist’s Proof is not a replica, clone, copy, reproduction, facsimile, or 1:1 of the 1975 Calder BMW Art Car. Rather, it is the identical Artist’s Proof that Calder was entitled to but was never realized until now. Meticulously built from an original BMW 3.0 CSL, the Artist’s Proof will carry the same Vehicle Identification Number, with the suffix “AP” (227592/AP).

BMW 3.0 CSL by Frank Stella, 1976

Frank Stella, the American artist and printmaker, was also a motorsport fan and, like Calder, the 3.0 CSL worked on by him took part at Le Mans, bearing the number 21. Stella, inspired by the car’s mechanicals, including its 750hp engine, rendered the car in black & white, with a grid of lines, and not surprisingly, the car stood out on the starting grid in stark contrast to its more colorful competitors.

BMW M1 by Andy Warhol, 1979

Pop artist Andy Warhol had this to say about the M1 that he painted himself: “I attempted to show speed as a visual image. When an automobile is really traveling fast, all the lines and colors are transformed into a blur.” Warhol’s work only served to enhance the M1’s legend, and the colourful car actually went as fast as it looked in the only race at Le Mans in 1979. It finished sixth in the overall standings and was retired to a museum.

BMW M6 GTLM by John Baldessari, 2017

To the American conceptual artist John Baldessari, BMWs were all about speed and the BMW Art Car was “the fastest artwork I’ve ever created.” The artist mostly worked with red, yellow, blue and green, and used the word ‘Fast’ as a typographical element on the car’s sides.

BMW M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons, 2010

It goes without saying that a list of world-class artists such as this must not be missing a Jeff Koons BMW Art Car. With this edition, pop art returned and with it the BMW Art Car series went back to its origins. With every fiber of its bodywork, the American artist’s BMW M3 GT2 wants to express the idea “I am fast!” The bright color elements seem to fly by on this car. Even when stationary, this car looks as if it’s about to jump; it is bursting with power.