BMW

Learn more about BMW models, products and services:

SPEEDY WORKS OF ART.SPEEDY WORKS OF ART.

SPEEDY WORKS OF ART.

5 min reading time

BMW Art Cars.

For more than 40 years, they race, are traded as works of art and are practically priceless: the BMW M Art Cars. Now BMW has announced a new collaboration.

30 June 2023

They race, are traded as works of art and are practically priceless: the BMW Art Cars. For more than 40 years, they have been the highlights of the BMW Art Car Collection, and total now 19 cars. The French auctioneer and hobby race car driver, Hervé Poulain, invented the BMW Art Cars. In 1975, he dreamed of competing in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in an artist-designed racing car. His biggest wish: a super sports car. His greatest happiness: BMW Motorsport GmbH, founded three years previously. They recognised the potential of this seemingly crazy idea, and had a BMW 3.0 CSL painted by the American sculptor Alexander Calder. A few months later, Poulain unveiled the powerful multi-colour lightweight coupé at Le Mans – the first instance of BMW performance art. Since then, the BMW M Art Cars have been hot-selling exhibits. And some of the most spectacular combinations of speed and beauty.

I've loved cars for most of my life, as toys, as objects, as possibilities. It is from that space that I'm really excited to be working on the next BMW Art Car more than anything.
Julie Mehretu, New York based artist

2024 | Julie Mehretu - BMW M Hybrid V8.

BMW M Hybrid V8BMW M Hybrid V8

The story of the BMW Art Cars continues: BMW announced a collaboration at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City with internationally renowned New York-based artist Julie Mehretu to create the 20th BMW Art Car. Mehretu was unanimously chosen by an international jury of museum directors and curators, and will be given total creative freedom to design the next instalment in BMW’s legendary collection of ”rolling sculptures”. BMW will enter Mehretu’s BMW M Hybrid V8 Art Car in the 24 Hour race of Le Mans in June 2024. This continues an almost 50-year tradition that has delighted not only motorsport enthusiasts but anyone into design or the arts, technology and mobility.

2017 | Cao Fei - BMW M6 GT3.

BMW M6 GTL3 Art Car by Cao Fei BMW M6 GTL3 Art Car by Cao Fei

The future is now: Cao Fei is the youngest and first Chinese artist ever to create a BMW Art Car by employing augmented and virtual reality. Her work, based on the BMW M6 GT3, is a reflection on the speed of change in China, on tradition and future. Paying tribute to the carbon fiber structure of the racecar chassis, Cao Fei’s holistic use of a non-reflective black incorporates the car into the possibilities of the digital world. In November 2017, the BMW M6 GT3 Art Car will race at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.

To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the #18 Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind.
Cao Fei, Chinese artist about her BMW Art Car

2016 | John Baldessari - BMW M6 GTLM.

BMW M6 GTLM Art Car John BaldessariBMW M6 GTLM Art Car John Baldessari

Presented at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2016, the BMW M6 GTML is the newest BMW Art Car. Behind the 19th BMW Art Car is the American conceptual artist John Baldessari. He gave the 585 hp racing car some minimalist touches in red, yellow, blue and green, and added the word “FAST”. The most striking feature is the red dot on the roof, making the BMW M6 stand out even more from above.

You can say that the BMW Art Car is clearly a typical Baldessari, and the fastest work of art that I’ve ever created.
John Baldessari on his BMW M creation

2010 | Jeff Koons - BMW M3 GT2.

BMW M3 GT2 Art Car Jeff KoonsBMW M3 GT2 Art Car Jeff Koons

Bright colours, wild stripes and depictions of explosions decorated the BMW M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons. It was a real crowd magnet when it arrived on the starting line of the 24-hour race at Le Mans on June 12, 2010 – despite technical problems and an early withdrawal after five hours.

1999 | Jenny Holzer - BMW V12 LMR.

BMW V12 LMR Art Car Jenny HolzerBMW V12 LMR Art Car Jenny Holzer

The Art Car designed by the American concept artist Jenny Holzer is adorned with messages which "will probably never become void". To allow the characteristic BMW colours blue and white to remain visible during the 24-hour race at Le Mans, she used reflecting chrome letters and phosphorescent colours. During the day the sky is reflected in the letters, during the night the foil is desorbing again the saved daylight in blue. At the beginning of May 1999, this Art Car participated in the preliminary qualification for the 24-hour race at Le Mans, but did not take part in the actual race. However, a further BMW V12 LMR was driven to victory in the race.

1992 | Sandro Chia - BMW M3 GTR.

BMW M3 GTR Art Car Sandro ChiaBMW M3 GTR Art Car Sandro Chia

The prototype of the later BMW M3 GTR was the canvas for the Italian avant-garde artist Sandro Chia. Even as a child, he painted graffiti on cars. But whether they ever competed in a race remains unknown. And as if the brand-new racing car didn’t catch enough eyes, Chia painted countless faces and a sea of colours on the body. “This car reflects all those looking and watching.” Even at a top speed of 300 km/h.

1989 | Ken Done - BMW M3.

BMW M3 Art Car Ken DoneBMW M3 Art Car Ken Done

The BMW M3 by Ken Done is also typically Australian. With its exotic colours and clear shapes, it is not only reminiscent of nature, sun and beaches, but also hints at next season’s beach fashion. A racing car that combines unrivalled dynamics with a pure Australian love for life. In 1987, the BMW M3 won the driving championships of the Australian Group A.

I painted parrots and parrot fish. Both are beautiful and move with fantastical speed. I wanted my BMW Art Car to deliver the same impression.
Ken Done, a graduate of the National Art School in East Sydney, and today a renowned Australian artist.

1989 | Michael Jagamara Nelson - BMW M3.

BMW M3 Art Car Michael Jagamara NelsonBMW M3 Art Car Michael Jagamara Nelson

Seven days, 300 hp and the colours of the outback. This was the 1989 BMW M3 designed by Michael Jagamara Nelson. “The car is like a landscape as seen from the plane,” explained the artist with Aboriginal roots, and one of the leading contemporary representatives of Papunya art. He painted the black-finished high-performance sports car with abstract shapes that turn out to be emus and kangaroos on closer inspection. He adapted the ancient Aboriginal technique of capturing personal experience and religious myths in so-called “dreamings” – usually seen on rock and cave walls. This BMW M3 is an original from the Motorsport Department of BMW Australia – a true ethno-art work.

The car is a landscape – as if seen from an airplane.
Jagamara Nelson, artist with Aboriginal roots and leading representative of Papunya art.

1979 | Andy Warhol - BMW M1.

BMW M1 Art Car Andy WarholBMW M1 Art Car Andy Warhol

Four years after the first BMW Art Car, pop art icon Andy Warhol took on the fourth BMW Art Car in 1979, equipped with buckets of paint. The work of art was completed in just 28 minutes. Colourful hues stretch across the BMW M1, as do brush marks, Warhol's fingerprints and finally his signature at the rear. When the BMW M1 is in full throttle, all lines and colours blur into a regular colour explosion. Speed has never been depicted so beautifully.

I love this car. It’s better than any work of art.
Andy Warhol on the BMW M1

1977 | Roy Lichtenstein - BMW 320i.

BMW 320i Art CarBMW 320i Art Car

From the racetrack to the studio and back – the BMW 3.0 CSL set many milestones. In 1975 the sculptor Alexander Calder created an artistic landmark with the six-cylinder-coupé and laid the foundation for the BMW Art Car Collection. Having an artist create an automobile was the brainwave of French racing driver Hervé Poulain, who also later drove the artwork in competition. As in his art, Calder used strong colours and curved surfaces, which he generously distributed on wings, bonnet and roof.

1976 | Frank Stella - BMW 3.0 CSL.

BMW 3.0 CSL Art CarBMW 3.0 CSL Art Car

Painter Frank Stella created the fastest work of art in the world of its time. Stella’s BMW 3.0 CSL had 750 hp. In his design, the artist abandoned his usual free work and allowed himself to be inspired by the racing coupé’s technological aura. A black and white grid of squares was the result, which in its precision resembled oversized graph paper. Every shape of the chassis parts is grated by this graph paper, so that every curve and protrusion can be formally captured and exactly described.

1975 | Alexander Calder - BMW 3.0 CSL

BMW 3.0 CSL Art CarBMW 3.0 CSL Art Car

From the racetrack to the studio and back – the BMW 3.0 CSL set many milestones. In 1975 the sculptor Alexander Calder created an artistic landmark with the six-cylinder-coupé and laid the foundation for the BMW Art Car Collection. Having an artist create an automobile was the brainwave of French racing driver Hervé Poulain, who also later drove the artwork in competition. As in his art, Calder used strong colours and curved surfaces, which he generously distributed on wings, bonnet and roof.

MORE BMW ART CARS AT THE BMW MUSEUM.

Our tool for managing your consent to our use of cookies is temporarily offline.
For this reason, some functions that require your consent to the use of cookies may not be available.