20th BMW Art Car design studies by Julie Mehretu

20th BMW Art Car design studies by Julie Mehretu

BMW Group Cultural Engagement

Julie Mehretu, 20th BMW Art Car. Photo: André Josselin and Tina Paffen. © BMW AG.

February 5, 2024
20th BMW Art Car design studies by Julie Mehretu
Instagram / #juliemehretu / #BMWArtCar / #BMWGroupCulture

Julie Mehretu presents her first design studies for the 20th BMW Art Car. For this project, the internationally renowned artist combines her artistic work with a personal enthusiasm for automotive design and speed. She translates dynamism into form and applies one of her monumental motifs from a two-dimensional picture plane onto a three-dimensional industrially designed object. In the course of this creative process, the BMW M Hybrid V8 racing car prototype becomes the canvas of Mehretu’s multi-layered art and the next addition to the legendary BMW Art Car Collection. Just as Roy Lichtenstein’s (1977) and Jeff Koons’ (2010) “rolling sculptures”, the 20th BMW Art Car will also celebrate its official world premiere at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on May 21, before competing with starting number 20 a few weeks later in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 15–16, 2024.

For the design of the 20th BMW Art Car, Julie Mehretu uses the colour and form vocabulary of an existing large-format painting from a more recent series of works: obscured photographs, dotted grids, neon-coloured spray paint and Mehretu’s iconic gestural markings give her design an abstract visual form. She transfers the resulting image motif as a high-resolution photograph onto the vehicle’s contours using a 3D mapping technique. This creates the unique artistic foiling with which the BMW M Hybrid V8 will compete in the Le Mans race. Mehretu on her process: “It wasn’t until after going to the 24 Hours race in Daytona last year that the idea of how to approach the BMW Art Car really crystallised. I was thinking about Frank Stella’s grid and how this could also be a shout-out to former BMW Art Car artists. And I kept thinking of this painting in my studio that I had just finished, and the model of the Art Car was in my studio and I thought maybe we can try to have the car move through this painting.”

For the first time, Julie Mehretu, whose work will be presented this year within a major retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice from March 17, is working with BMW on a three-dimensional format. The interplay of the surfaces and geometry of the vehicle creates a remix of elements of her painting and opens up new perspectives for the artist in her creative process. “The creative play of what you can do in this new three-dimensional space and how many imaginations and inventions are played out to build it is highly instructive. It is not just the car itself but the designers and their deliberations as well as and foremost the drivers and their desires and aspirations which make it become this place of dreams where painting, conceptual art, aerodynamics, speed and aesthetics can participate,” says Mehretu. In accordance with the regulations of the FIA, the 3D version of the artwork can only be applied to the BMW M Hybrid V8 with a film wrap.

Following its race at Le Mans, the 20th BMW Art Car will become an exhibit that will be presented to the public in museums and on art platforms worldwide. However, Julie Mehretu’s approach goes far beyond the vehicle as a stand-alone artistic work. A central component of the project is the PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshop Series on the African continent. Together with Mehret Mandefro, Emmy-nominated producer, writer and co-founder of the Realness Institute, which works to strengthen the media ecosystem across Africa, the artist will host workshops in eight African cities over the course of nine months to provide artists with a space for encounters, exchange and collaboration. The results of the workshops will then be presented at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town in 2025—together with the 20th BMW Art Car.

Press contact: Christiane Pyka, Spokesperson BMW Group Cultural Engagement, T +49 89 382 40139 / Christiane.Pyka [​at​] bmwgroup.com

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February 5, 2024

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