Moving Masterpieces: the BMW Art Car Program

Since 1975, BMW has engaged prominent artists from around the world to “decorate” BMW, each making extremely different and individual artistic statements. The seventeen “exhibits” created for the ArtCar Collection until now include works by well-known artists such as Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Eliasson and Jeff Koons. They reflect the cultural and historical development of art, design, and technology and have been presented by major museums around the world, including the Guggenheim and the Louvre.

Unlike most pieces of art, though, these are moving masterpieces, all completely drivable, and many of which were and are top-calibre competition cars. Instead of being confined to galleries, vehicles like the Alexander Calder and Frank Strella 3.0 CSLs, the Roy Lichtenstein 320i, Andy Warhol M1, and Jeff Koons M3 GT2 were full-on race cars, and raced at prominent events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While the purpose of the Art Car project has changed somewhat over time – while motorsport is still an important part of the program, the cars are also used to advertise the fact that BMW is a player in the arts – their historical significance and their place in racing history are undeniable.