I Fail To See The “Art” In BMW’s Latest Art Car.

BMW Art cars are usually pretty epic. They are a welcome departure from the corporate billboards that modern race cars have become. The concept started back in 1975, when french auctioneer and part-time race car driver, Hervé Poulain, commissioned American painter, Alexander Calder, to create a new livery for Poulain’s BMW 3.0 CSL he raced during the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1975. The car shocked the Automotive community as the new concept was radically different than anything that had come before it. Since there have been many BMW “Art Cars” crafted by famous artists including Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. New BMW art cars are a source of automotive news all by themselves, which is why the recent reveal of their latest was met with much anticipation and fan fare.

The Alexander Calder BMW Art Car at a news conference in New York where BMW announced it's return to the Le Mans 24 hour race on Tuesday, April 6, 2010. The next BMW Art Car artist Jeff Koons design concept for the 17th BMW Art Car in background. (Jim Sulley/newscast) (04/2010)
The Alexander Calder 1975 BMW Art Car

The man tagged with the responsibility of the most recent Art Car was Los Angeles-based artist John Baldessari. Apparently he is a very famous and world-renowned artist. However his creation is, how to put this, awful. It looks like the laziest livery in the history of all liveries. I don’t know what BMW paid this guy but if I were them I’d demand my money back. It is basically an all white livery with the word “FAST” on one side and a portrait of the car on the other. There are some circles on the roof and front fascia and that’s it. I mean a 3rd grade art student could have come up with this.

Is it just me or does this look like this car was sponsored by Wonder Bread?

Apparently Baldessari was commissioned by a selection committee. On that committee were important museum directors from all over the world, including the directors of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Congratulations to the committee, you choice created a car having zero business being mentioned with the great Art Cars of the past.

“I have done only one work in my life involving a car before, and that was an image of a car,” Baldessari said. “So for the BMW Art Car project, I entered uncharted territory, not just in terms of the subject, but also moving from two- to three-dimensional art. A challenge I did enjoy! The ideas all came at once: for instance, the red dot on the roof, so you can see it from above, FAST on one side and a picture of the car on the other side. I like the ambiguity, having two-dimension and three-dimension at the same time. Considering the car as an icon of contemporary life, my concept turned out playfully satirical, but it also highlights some of the trademark ideas that I use. So you can say, the BMW Art Car is definitely a typical Baldessari and the fastest artwork I ever created!”



Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit. You can justify it all you want, what you did was simple thievery. You added shapes, some color, a word and a picture of the car you were supposed to be designing a livery for. I could have done this, only I don’t have the arrogance to call this “art”.  However it appears as though BMW is pleased with Baldessari’s work.

“It will be a great honor for us to present the 19th BMW Art Car on the race track, and especially to bring it to an event steeped in tradition such as the 24 Hours of Daytona,”BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said. “The design of this BMW M6 GTLM is absolutely unique. We will give our very best to ensure that this rolling work of art will not only provide a visual highlight but also be successful on the track.”

“Rolling work of art”? Really Jens? Pretty sure Jens is just trying his damnedest to make lemonade. Anyone blessed with the gift of sight can see that BMW got jobbed here. This is not fitting the tradition of the Art Cars that came before it. I think Jens believes if he says enough good things about it people will be fooled into thinking it looks anything resembling good. I also think there is an element of corporate PC-ness coming into play here. Because if it were me, I’d tell Mr. Baldessari to go kick rocks. Accuse me of not getting art all you want, if this is “fine art” then I don’t want to understand.


This rolling piece of whatever you want to call it will be on track at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. Having the unfortunate task of driving the worst livery on the grid will be Bruno Spengler, Augusto Farfus, Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims. Best part for these guys is they will be sitting in it, unable to see the lazy paint scheme adorning their car.

If you must, watch the full reveal here:

Source: IMSA

Written by Chad Kennedy

Chad burst from the womb wearing a racing suit and a helmet. Chad's passion for cars is in his very DNA. His father was a gear head and passed on the tradition through owning such classics as a '66 Mustang and a '59 Corvette all while taking him to various race tracks in the area. Chad likes to wrench on his rides whenever possible, forgoing the stealership. Chad is an avid motorsports fan with particular interest in endurance/sports car racing. When not online writing for Shifting Lanes, you can find him working at the local golf course teaching people how to swing or hooning a golf cart at impossible speeds.


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