London Graced with BMW Art Car Exhibit for 2012 Olympics
From the massive stadiums, teaming with supporters from every country, to the spectacle of the world’s best athletes in their prime, there is no better smorgasbord of competition than the Olympics. Part of the massive spectacle descending upon London this summer is the BMW Art Car Collection, from July 21 to August 4, providing iconic vehicles, customized by some of the world’s greatest artists. The cars will be on display in the Great Eastern Car Park in the Shoreditch section of town as part of the London 2012 Festival, which runs until Sept 9, 2012. This collection of cars is the great intersection of art and automotive, and that was the idea from the start. Here's a quick preview of what you can see at this amazing exhibit.
The BMW Art Car began where many artistic endeavors start or end up- with the French. French racer and auctioneer Herve Poulain wanted an artist to work on the body of a car like a canvas, thus creating a drivable piece of art. In 1975, he commissioned Alexander Calder to paint his BMW 3.0 CSL- one of the venerable “Batmobile’s”. When Calder finished creating the stunning race-ready coupe, Poulain entered it in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans. Though the car did not finish, it had made its mark on the world. From there, a tradition began.
The following year, Italian American artist Frank Stella painted yet another 3.0 CSL, and beautifully summed up the essence of the art car,
"The starting point for the art cars was racing livery. In the old days there used to be a tradition of identifying a car with its country by color. Now they get a number and they get advertising. It’s a paint job, one way or another. The idea for mine was that it’s from a drawing on graph paper. The graph paper is what it is, a graph, but when it’s morphed over the car’s forms it becomes interesting, and adapting the drawing to the racing car’s forms is interesting. Theoretically it’s like painting on a shaped canvas."
Most notably, in 1979, Andy Warhol painted a BMW M1 Group 4 racer. The entire collection of 17 cars consist of both road and race cars, and have been painted by names such as Roy Litchtenstein, Ernst Fuchs, David Hockney, and most recently Jeff Koons. The latter worked on a 2010 M3 GT2 that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, thus maintaining a rich tradition.
There is something haphazardly amazing about racing a car that has been graced with the work of a famous artist. As in, it’s not just enough to possess a one-of-a-kind car, we’re going to take it out onto a track with dozens of other cars.
Those lucky enough to be in London for the 2012 Olympics will get to see these incredible cars in-person. Some have done battle on the trace track. Others have captured the imagination of many via a more sedate road car canvas. Regardless, they have ascended to pop-icon status and will certainly not go unappreciated by the people of London and spectators from around the world.
See the entire BMW Art Car collection here.