The BMW Art Car is back at Le Mans

2024. Nearly fifty years have passed since the first BMW Art Car (the 3.0 Csl signed by the great American artist Alexander Calder and used by Poulain in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1975). Continuing with the long tradition of the BMW Art Car Collection, the new car was unveiled to the public for the first time on May 21. As with the world premieres of BMW Art Cars by Roy Lichtenstein (1977) and Jeff Koons (2010), the unveiling took place at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.The BMW M Hybrid V8, car number 20 in this long-running collection, was customized by Ethiopian painter Julie Mehretu who was unanimously chosen by a jury of senior representatives of the international art world, curators and museum directors from various countries. Those included Koyo Kouoh, executive director and chief curator of Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London; and Cecilia Alemani and Donald R. Mullen Jr. director and chief curator of High Line Art, New York.
For this project, the artist combined his artwork with his personal passion for automotive and speed. Julie Mehretu has had almost unlimited creative freedom., like all of the artists involved in the creation of the BMW Art Car Collection (among them Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, CĂ©sar Manrique, Esther Mahlangu, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Cao Fei, and John Baldessari).Space, movement, and energy have always been central motifs in Julie Mehretu's work. For this livery, the Ethiopian artist transformed a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional representation for the first time in her career, enhancing dynamism in forms. Mehretu used the vocabulary of color and form from her well-known painting Everywhen (2021 - 2023) as the starting point for her project: digitally obscured photographs, halftone patterns, neon-colored spray paint, and all its iconic signs.Mehretu then transferred the resulting image as a high-resolution photograph to the contours of the vehicle using a 3D mapping technique.In line with FIA regulations, the livery can only be applied to the car with a wrap. For this very reason, Julie Mehretu worked closely with the German Race Spirit team, led by Manuel Eberl and Gertraud Brenninger.
Following tradition, the Hypercar will first be used in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15 and 16, and then be displayed in various parts of the Globe. In fact, it is already currently on display in the artist's retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and will later become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to which it was donated.Not only art and motors. A central component of the project is the PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshop Series on the African continent, which will provide a way for Julie Mehretu's collaboration with BMW to continue into 2025.Together with Mehret Mandefro, producer, writer and co-founder of the Realness Institute, which works to strengthen the media ecosystem across Africa; she will organize workshops in eight African cities over the course of nine months to provide a space for artists to meet, exchange and collaborate. The results of the workshops will then be presented at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, along with the BMW M Hybrid V8.The legend continues. All we have to do is just wait a few days to see it rolling on track and keep dreaming.
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