BMW'S Art Cars, painted by some of the world's most influential and charismatic artists, have become famous in their own right and draw large audiences of admirers wherever they go.
The first Art Car was commissioned in 1975 and painted by Alexander Calder and in the 41 years since that first car another 16 have followed bearing the signatures of Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Australians Michael Jagamara Nelson and Ken Done, Cesar Manrique and David Hockney to name just a few.
Each car was unique, a moving artwork in its own right, three-dimensional pieces that reflected not only their time but also the artists' environments.
Now the 18th BMW Art Car has been commissioned and will debut sometime next year.
This latest piece, which uses the high-performance M6 GT3 as its ‘canvas' will be the first Art Car to be painted by a Chinese artist, the commission going to Beijing-based Cao Fei.
Inspired by the speed of racing cars and the tremendous changes to Chinese society over the past three decades, Cao Fei will use the car to interpret the themes of the new century such as automated driving and the convergence of the virtual and real worlds.
"The car is key to understanding the changes occurring in contemporary Chinese society. The rapid speed of a car and the rapid changes taking place in Chinese society are my inspirations for creating the 18th BMW Art Car, Cao Fei said, adding that her rendition "will adopt an expressive form, completely different from previous ones."
The artist says her BMW Art Car will be an interpretation of the century's theme, a landscape of no man's land with autonomous cars and aircraft and virtual reality.
Many of the previous Art Cars have been driven in a major car race after their unveiling and the 18th vehicle will be no different, running in a race somewhere in Asia before being exhibited in a major museum.
Cao Fei is considered one of the most important young artists to have emerged from China. She has been active in the international art scene for almost two decades with her unique multimedia projects in which she explores the rapid changes occurring in Chinese society.
American artist John Baldessari has been commissioned to design the 19th BMW Art Car.
BMW views its Art Cars as the perfect interaction of design, automotive, racing and technology and believes contemporary art has helped make each one legendary in both the automotive industry and the art world.
Over the past 41 years, BMW invited seventeen international artists to design BMW models, among them some of the most renowned artists of our time. Alexander Calder (1975), Frank Stella (1976), Roy Lichtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Ernst Fuchs (1982), Robert Rauschenberg (1986), Michael Jagamara Nelson (1989), Ken Done (1989), Matazo Kayama (1990), César Manrique (1990), A. R. Penck (1991), Esther Mahlangu (1991), Sandro Chia (1992), David Hockney (1995), Jenny Holzer (1999), Olafur Eliasson (2007), Jeff Koons (2010) have all contributed to the program.
Their creativity turned the Art Cars into manifestations of minimalism, pop art, art brut and conceptual art – an authentic testimony to the unique trends and cultural ideas of their time.
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