American Mehretu delivers 20th BMW art car

Riley Riley

BMW has taken the wraps off its 20th Art Car at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Designed by renowned New York-based contemporary artist Julie Mehretu, the basis for the project was the BMW M Hybrid V8 race car.

The new race car from BMW M GmbH features a hybrid, petrol-electric drivetrain that produces about 477kW, from a 4.0-litre V8 supported by an electric motor.

It has a top speed of up to 345 km/h depending on the race track layout.

Born in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia in 1970, Julie Mehretu is a world-renowned American painter.

She lives and works in New York City and Berlin.

Space, movement and energy have always been central motifs in Julie Mehretu’s work.

For the design of the 20th BMW Art Car, she transformed a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional representation for the first time, with which she succeeded in bringing dynamism into form.

Mehretu used the colour and form vocabulary of her monumental painting “Everywhen” (2021 – 2023) as a starting point for her design.

In just a few weeks the newest edition in the storied BMW Art Car collection will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The collaboration between BMW and Julie Mehretu includes a joint commitment to a series of PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshops for filmmakers, which will tour various African cities in 2025 and 2026.

It will culminate in a major exhibition at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.

Since 1975 renowned artists from all over the world have participated in the BMW Art Car program.

The initiative came from the French racing driver and art lover Hervé Poulain, who, together with the then BMW Head of Motorsport Jochen Neerpasch, asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint a car.

The result was a BMW 3.0 CSL, which competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1975 and became a crowd favourite.

This was the birth of the BMW Art Car Collection.

In the years that followed, renowned artists such as Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Esther Mahlangu, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Ólafur Elíasson and Jeff Koons added to the collection with further BMW Art Cars — each in their own individual style.

Most recently, the Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei and American conceptual artist John Baldessari each presented a BMW Art Car based on the BMW M6 GT3 and GTLM respectively in 2016 and 2017.

The BMW Art Cars are not only shown at their home, the BMW Museum in Munich, but are also tour the world as part of international exhibitions.


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