Honoring the 35th anniversary of the project, an exhibit at the BMW Museum in Munich brings together the complete set of 17 BMW Art Cars (with the exception of Olafur Eliasson's ice sculpture) for the first time. Seeing them in one place makes for a study of the car as canvas, highlighting both similarities in the artist's approaches (the majority are splashed with bright colors) as well as each distinct style.
While assembling all the cars is an impressive single-subject show, and many of the big names—Calder, Hockney, Lichtenstein—are familiar, there's plenty of opportunity for discovery with some of the lesser-known works, like the shimmering surface of Matazo Kayama's 1990 535i that welcomes visitors to the exhibit.
On a recent visit there as a guest of BMW, I also picked up a few insights that speak to the rich history of the brand initiative. As a whole, the show speaks to the savvy pairing of culture and sport, supporting the automaker's values of performance and the joy of driving as they introduce fine art to race car driving.
A classic Warhol story, that he took all of 23 minutes to paint his 1979 M1 because he said the design of the car is so great, underlines his accompanying statement that he "tried to portray a sense of speed. When a car is going really fast all the lines and colours become a blur." The short film on the making of this car and its race is worth checking out on the BMW Art Car microsite.
Similarly, Kayama said of his car (pictured above), "it was the attractive basic shape of the car which made my work at all possible in the first place."