Prototyp museum opens new celebration of the famous BMW Art Cars.
BMW’s Art Cars seldom emerge in public en masse, their appearances usually limited to a few examples brought out for BMW’s promotional events, such as at last June’s Goodwood Festival of Speed where they helped celebrate the company’s centenary.
That changes from 11 November through to 19 March, when nine of the 17 Art Cars are displayed at Hamburg’s Automuseum Prototyp. This refurbished factory building is already home to an intriguing permanent collection of automotive artefacts celebrating creative endeavour among unique racing and sports cars, mostly German or Austrian and from the early post-war years.
Some of the Art Cars raced, some were road cars, but all are, says the museum, ‘rolling sculptures which impressively show the perfect harmony of art and technology’. Here’s the list:
• Alexander Calder, BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975
• Frank Stella, BMW 3.0 CSL, 1976
• Roy Lichtenstein, BMW 320 Gruppe 5, 1977
• Andy Warhol, BMW M1 Gruppe 4, 1979
• Ernst Fuchs, BMW 635CSi, 1982
• MJ Nelson, BMW M3 Gruppe A, 1989
• Cesar Manrique, BMW 730i, 1990
• AR Penck, BMW Z1, 1991
• Jeff Koons, BMW M3 GT2, 2010
Automuseum Prototyp says it’s keen to emphasise the human dimension beyond the cars. Touchscreens by the cars show how each Art Car came about, and let visitors learn how the artists adapted to the unfamiliar terrain of automotive surfaces. Andy Warhol, for example, talks of trying to depict speed through contours and colours, while Frank Stella explains how it ‘opened in me something for the real world’.
The exhibition comes in the year when, on 15 June, Chinese artist Cao Fei presented her concept for the 18th Art Car, and American John Baldessari revealed his trademark coloured dots on the 19th. Fei’s M6 GT3 will race in Asia in 2017, while Baldessari’s BMW is to be entered in the January 2017 Daytona 24 Hours.
A few portraits of the Art Cars...
Roy Lichtenstein BMW 320i, 1977:
‘I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go,’ said Lichtenstein. The dots are a reference to his pop-art.
Esther Mahlangu BMW 525i, 1991:
Mahlangu, the first female Art Car artist, fitted African Ndebele art – practised exclusively by women – to every panel of a 525i. The job took just one week.
David Hockney BMW 850 CSi, 1995:
‘I thought it would be a good idea to show the car as if one could see inside,’ said Hockney. As an example, the driver is visible through the door.
Jeff Koons BMW M3 GT2, 2010: This is the most obviously petrol-headed of the Art Cars. ‘These race cars are like life: they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,’ said Koons.
Words: John Simister