Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn: BMW Art Cars

BMW Art Cars

14.04.13–28.07.13  11:00–18:00

Kumu foyer and courtyard

The Goethe Institute, in cooperation with the BMW Group and Kumu Art Museum, is bringing four works of art from the extraordinary BMW Art Car Collection to Estonia. Starting on 14 April, within the framework of the German Spring culture month, cars designed by four of the world's top artists will be on display in the Kumu courtyard and foyer.

The cars from the collection that will come to Tallinn were designed by Roy Lichtenstein, A. R. Penck, David Hockney and Jeff Koons. The BMW Art Cars project was initiated in 1975, when the French auctioneer and race car driver Hervé Poulain succeeded in convincing Alexander Calder to take part in an unprecedented experiment. BMW put a 3.0 CSL race car at the disposal of Calder, and an ambitious symbiosis of art and top-quality design was born, which was revealed to the world at the 24 Hours at Le Mans race. Since that time, 17 famous artists from around the world have turned BMW cars into works of art: in addition to Calder, the artists include Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ernst Fuchs, Robert Rauschenberg, Michael Jagamara Nelson, Ken Done, Matazo Kayama, César Manrique, A. R. Penck, Esther Mahlangu, Sandro Chia, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Eliasson, Robin Rhode and Jeff Koons.

The BMW Art Cars have been exhibited in the world's most famous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, Guggenheim and Shanghai Art Museum, but it is very seldom that several cars meet up in one place; this most recently occurred during the London Olympic Games.

Roy Lichtenstein said the following about the BMW 320i that he designed in 1977, "I pondered on it for a long time and put as much into it as I possibly could." The result is a harmonious combination of the aerodynamics of the car body and the artist's aesthetics – it is one of the fastest moving works of art that the world has ever seen! Lichtenstein's famous comic book style is visible in the colours. "I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go. The design also shows the countryside through which the car has travelled," commented the artist. Roy Lichtenstein's car was unveiled at the Pompidou Centre in Paris and at the Le Mans racetrack, where it was driven by Hervé Poulain and Marcel Mignot. The car finished ninth overall and first in its class.

According to A. R. Penck, the BMW Z1 is a "work of art" in itself, worthy of the term Art Car, as the product reflects the creativity and imagination of designers and engineers. Penck was inspired by the car's technical design, which he supplemented with his art arsenal and sign system. In its simplicity, it is reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings, although it is, nonetheless, a challenge to the observer, as the figures and signs resulting from a long process of abstraction are codes that have to be deciphered. "Art on art, art on technology – that interested me – especially art on a three-dimensional object," Penck has said. The BMW Z1 that he designed in 1991 was intended solely as an exhibit and has never been driven on the road or in a race.

David Hockney has said the following about the creation of the BMW 850 CS, which was completed in 1995: "I looked at it time and time again. Finally, I thought it would be a good idea to show the car as if one could see inside." Hockney turned the car inside out, creating the unique impression of the car being transparent. The bonnet sports a stylised reproduction of the engine's intake manifold, the driver is visible through the door, and a dachshund can be seen sitting on the back seat. Born in England, David Hockney has been one of the most flamboyant and influential protagonists on the international art scene since the early sixties. The Art Car designed by Hockney was intended solely as an exhibit and has never been driven on the road or in a race.

Jeff Koons is the author of the newest work in the collection. The bright colours of the BMW M3 GT2, which was completed in 2010, evoke power, motion and bursting energy. With its silver interior and powerful exterior design, Koons's Art Car projects dynamism even when it's standing still. Koons was inspired by the power and energy of the race car, and the idea was to highlight this. The car created by Jeff Koons was unveiled at the Pompidou Centre and later competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, starting with the number 79, in honour of the Art Car created by Andy Warhol in 1979. The world's most successful modern conceptual artist had the idea of designing the car himself, because of his passion for cars, and the time that he spent in Munich in the 1970s, when he drove a BMW.


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