From Warhol to Holzer: Our Favorite BMW Art Cars


BMW recently launched a virtual museum featuring 17 of its commissioned “works of art on wheels.” Visitors can vroom around the site between the Roy Lichtenstein-ed, Frank Stella-fied, and Jeff Koons-tomized vehicles, and view short video vignettes about the making of each car. The vids drop a few curious revelations — like Rauschenberg dubbing his car a “wonderful virgin.” Generally, they are just long form commercials for BMW, with carefully selected, amorous soundbites. Still, they are worthwhile to watch for glimpses of each talent at work alone. See the individual videos at the BMW Art Car Tour and check out our favorite four-wheelers in the gallery below to see what we’ve learned.

Andy Warhol (USA) 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version

Andy Warhol showed up with a full entourage but painted the car himself with 13 pounds of paint in 28 minutes flat and then asked for another one.

Ernst Fuchs (A) 1982 BMW 635 CSi

Known for his monumental paintings of saints, Fuchs switched it up to create a car on fire based on his personal experience… inside of a car on fire.

Robert Rauschenberg (USA) 1986 BMW 635 CSi

Rauschenberg lovingly referred to the car as a “virgin” and “beautified her” with layers of foil collage reflecting nature, the technical world and, naturally, classical nudity.

Roy Lichtenstein (USA) 1977 BMW 320I Group 5 Race Version

Lichenstein imagined a blurring, bright landscape reflecting in a shiny, speeding car and interpreted the imagery in his signature style — dotty.

Matazo Kayama (J) 1990 BMW 535i

The artist used intricate application of decorative foil to deck out the car in the forms of snow crystals.

Jenny Holzer (USA) 1999 BMW V12 LMR

Holzer’s cleverly cynical text on desire, lacquered onto the race car of her choice purposely stirred tension between her and BMW. Rowr.

Frank Stella (USA) 1976 BMW 3.0 CSL

Stella did not have a driver’s license before he started the commission and became obsessed with racing during it.

Esther Mahlangu (ZA) 1991 BMW 525i

The famed female African artist painted the car as if it were a traditional house.

A.R. Penck (D) 1991 BMW Z1

Penck played drums to get the proper “vibrations” and “jazz painted” the car.

Ken Done (AUS) 1989 BMW M3 Group A Race Version

Done’s car is all about “beautiful things,” Australia, flowers, and sunshine. It’s inspired by colorful fish.

Olafur Eliasson (DEN) 2007 BMW H2R World Speed Record Hydrogen Car

The most innovative and drastic interpretation comes from Eliasson. The highlighted BMW model runs on hydrogen, but you can’t race this car. It’s frozen still, encased in an ice design and commenting on global warming. Burn!

The entire BMW Art Car Collection in video form.