BMW & Artist Julie Mehretu Unveil 20th BMW Art Car

Mehretu presented the car alongside a series of BMW art cars at the Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este in Lake Como...

BMW announces the 20th BMW Art Car was presented to the public at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on May 21. Designed by New York-based artist Julie Mehretu, the project transforms the BMW M Hybrid V8 race car into a work of art, continuing a longstanding tradition of BMW Art Cars in competitive racing. 

The newest edition in the storied BMW Art Car collection will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June.

BMW & Artist Julie Mehretu Unveil 20th BMW Art Car | THE SHOP

“The BMW Art Car project is about pushing limits of what can be possible. I am thinking of it as something that will race in Le Mans. It’s a performative painting,” says Julie Mehretu. “The BMW Art Car is only complete once the race is over.”

“The BMW Art Cars are an essential part of the brand’s global cultural commitment. For almost 50 years, BMW has been cooperating with artists who are just as fascinated by mobility and design as they are by technology and motorsports. Mehretu’s vision is an extraordinarily strong contribution to our BMW Art Cars series,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG. “Mehretu has created more than an amazing Art Car. Her ideas provided the impetus to expand the cultural commitment of our Art Cars.”

Julie Mehretu was selected in 2018 by a jury of high-ranking representatives of the art world to design the 20th BMW Art Car. The panel includes renowned curators and museum directors from various countries. 

BMW & Artist Julie Mehretu Unveil 20th BMW Art Car | THE SHOP

The jury members published the following statement: “We are thrilled with Julie’s BMW Art Car! Okwui Enwezor had already coined the phrase ‘Dynamism in Form’ during our jury session, and nothing applies better to her BMW M Hybrid V8 racecar. Julie’s first three-dimensional work combines her aesthetics and formal language with the idea of the glitch and the blur, turning speed into a visceral experience. It not only pays homage to the art cars of Jenny Holzer and Frank Stella, but also spins a visual web that is unique within the series of Art Cars.”

The fusion of image and vehicle was realized with the help of 3D mapping, with which the motif was transferred to the contours of the vehicle. BMW Motorsport drivers Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Robin Frijns (NED) and René Rast (GER) will enter the 20th BMW Art Car with starting number 20 at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 15. 

The 20th BMW Art Car will make an appearance at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este in Lake Como on its way to Le Mans. As part of the exhibition for historic vehicles organized by the BMW Group and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este, Julie Mehretu herself will present the car.

BMW & Artist Julie Mehretu Unveil 20th BMW Art Car | THE SHOP

It will be featured on the grounds of the Villa Erba together with the BMW Art Cars by Alexander Calder (1975), Frank Stella (1976), Roy Lichtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Jenny Holzer (1999) and Jeff Koons (2010), which also made their race debut at Le Mans. Julie Mehretu will discuss the creation of the 20th BMW Art Car in an artist talk with Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

Julie Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, in 1970. Together with her family she moved to the U.S. at the age of seven. She lives and works in New York City and Berlin.

Pat Curtin

Pat Curtin is the managing editor of THE SHOP magazine.

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