Jeff Koons Designs the 17th Art BMW (And A Really Good Look At The Other 16).

Jeff Koons’ concept art for the car

The New York Times announced yesterday that the next BMW art car, a long standing tradition, will be done by contemporary artist Jeff Koons.
View Koon’s finished BMW Art Car here.

Koon’s relationship with BMW started more than two decades ago when he first drove a BMW whilst living in Munich, home to the BMW Group headquarters. It was in 2003 that Koons first expressed his desire to create a BMW Art Car.

Frank-Peter Arndt, member of the Board of Management for the BMW AG and responsible for BMW Group’s international cultural formats, said: “We are enormously pleased about Jeff Koons’ eagerly anticipated contribution to the BMW Art Car series, celebrating its 35th anniversary. Art Cars are part of the DNA of BMW’s cultural engagement. As manifested in Koons’ latest sculptural work, what unites us is the belief that nothing is impossible. Our company and Jeff Koons are drawn to permanent innovation and cutting-edge technology.”

above: Jeff Koons (right)with celebrated architect Richard Meier (left) at the party celebrating the announcement that Jeff Koons will create the 17th BMW Art Car at Koons‘ Manhattan studio, Tuesday, February 2, 2010.

It’s fairly well known that BMW has commissioned 16 Art Cars over the last four decades. The cars have toured museums around the world, including the Louvre in Paris, the Royal Academy in London, the Whitney Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and at the Guggenheim museums in New York and Bilbao.

Four of them, by the artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg, appeared at Grand Central Terminal in New York for two weeks in March of 2009. Those pieces (shown below) are part of a collection of 16 cars, from a 635CSi to an M1, that BMW has turned over to artists to re-imagine since 1975.

Andy Warhol, BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version, 1979:


Roy Lichtenstein, BMW 320i Group 5 Race Version, 1977:

Frank Stella, BMW 3.0 CSL, 1976:

Robert Rauschenberg, BMW 635 CSi, 1986:

Here are the other 12.

Alexander Calder, 3.0CSL, 1975. One of Calder’s last works, his BMW Art Car competed in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans:

Ernest Fuchs, 635CSi, 1982. He said his piece “represents a hare racing across a motorway at night and leaping over a burning car.”:

Ken Done, M3 Group A racing model, 1989. Along with Michael Jagamara Nelson, Mr. Done was one of two Australian artists commissioned by BMW in 1989. He painted parrots and parrot fish on his car:

Michael Jagamara Nelson, M3 Group A racing model, 1989. Using a style derived from traditional Aboriginal painting, Mr. Nelson’s work portrays a landscape as seen from the sky:

Matazo Kayama, 535i, 1990. Mr. Kayama used Japanese techniques of foil impression and metal cutting over an airbrushed surface:

Cesar Manrique, 730i, 1990. The Spanish artist and architect said he wanted his car “to appear as if it were gliding through space without encountering any form of resistance.”:

Esther Mahlangu, 525i, 1991. She painted her car in the traditional form of the Ndebele tribe of South Africa:

A. R. Penck, Z1, 1991. The German artist covered his car with pictographic images and symbols in a design that evokes primitive cave paintings:

Sandro Chia, M3 GTR, 1992. “Look at anything hard enough and it turns into a face,” said this Italian painter and sculptor of his Art Car. “And a face is a focal point of life and of the world.”:

David Hockney, 850CSi, 1995. His design offers an “inside” view of the car, including renderings of the intake manifolds painted on the hood:

Jenny Holzer, V12 LMR, 1999. Her Le Mans Roadster includes aphorisms like “The Unattainable Is Invariably Attractive.”:

Photographs © BMW AG

above Left: David Hockney painting Art Car 1995, BMW 850 CSi; above right: Jenny Holzer signing Art Car 1999, BMW V12 LMR

The final and 16th art car of the series thus far; Olafur Eliasson, H2R, 2007. He turned BMW’s hydrogen-powered race car into an Art Car on ice (this one has to be kept in a refrigerated room, for obvious reasons):

The Process – Installation view Studio Olafur Eliasson, Commissioned by BMW Group:

© Olafur Eliasson and BMW Group

special thanks to BMW, Dezeen and Car Body Design and The Curated Object for additional images. and to the Los Angeles Times and Robert Peele for additional info.

Miniature replicas of all of these cars (except for the Olafur Eliasson one) are available for purchase here.

See Jeff Koons finished version of the BMW Art Car here