BMW Art Car by Jeff Koons


American artist Jeff Koons unveiled his Art Car designed for BMW at the Pompidou Centre in Paris last night.

Lines of colour stream over the bodywork of the BMW M3 GT2 and graphics of debris have been applied to the rear sides and back.

The design was applied by digitally printing onto car-wrapping vinyl.

"This car is about this type of life energy, this desire to achieve and this desire to win," said Koons at the unveiling. "This life energy is up against everything and it keeps pushing through with this desire to create."

The Art Car will compete at the 24 hours race of Le Mans in France on 12-13 June.

Above: Jeff Koons: Design Sketch 17th BMW Art Car, 2010 
© Jeff Koons, BMW AG

The car is the 17th in the Art Car series, which began with the late American artist Alexander Calder in 1975. See the previous BMW Art Cars in our earlier story.

See Olafur Eliasson's 2007 installation Your Mobile Expectations - in which the body of a race car was replaced with an ice-covered carapace - in our earlier story.

More about cars in our transport category.

Here's some more information from BMW:

World Premiere of Jeff Koons' BMW Art Car at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Car will race at 24 hours of Le Mans.

At the premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car Jeff Koons unveiled and signed his car in front of 300 international VIP guests on June 1 in the Centre Pompidou, one of the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions for modern and contemporary art. It is the same place where Roy Lichtenstein back in 1977 first presented and signed his Art Car.

In the spirit of Calder, Stella, Lichtenstein, Warhol, BMW announced this year that the 17th Art Car created by Jeff Koons will race where the first rolling pieces of art by legendary artists raced – at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 12-13, 2010. Koons’ canvas is a BMW M3 GT2, which was homologated to compete at this year’s running of the world’s most famous endurance race.

On June 2, between 11 am to 9 pm, the public will have the chance to see the Art Car free of charge in the Forum of the Centre Pompidou. At 5.30 pm Jeff Koons will participate in a book signing at the official book store of the museum before he will talk about his work in conversation with Alain Seban, President of the Centre Pompidou, at 6 pm at the Forum of the museum.

The Design Process

As part of his creative process, the artist collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The resulting artwork of bright colors conceived by Koons is evocative of power, motion and bursting energy. Its silver interior along with the powerful exterior design, the Art Car will impart a dynamic appearance even when it’s standing still.

“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” said Koons. “You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to connect with that power”.

Koons has been in an intense collaboration with BMW’s team in Munich for months – melding his skill with sophisticated BMW engineering – to ensure that the 17th BMW Art Car will be race-ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Traveling back and forth to Germany many times since the February 2 announcement that Koons would create the 17th BMW Art Car, the artist has worked with the BMW engineering and design teams to conduct in-depth explorations of materials and application options that will prove crucial to optimizing both the aesthetic and aerodynamic attributes of the race car. Working with actual 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) models of the BMW M3 GT2, Koons could simulate the application of the graphic to the car’s surfaces and evaluate it from all angles.

Koons even donned a helmet and joined the BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team for testing in Sebring, Florida, on February 23. Koons was able to experience the M3 GT2 at race speed to further inspire his design. As Koons describes it, he witnessed “the raw unfiltered performance” of the M3 GT2 from the seat of a historic BMW M1 race car. Koons also drove a BMW M3 Coupe on the circuit to further the dynamic exercise.

Under Koons’ direct guidance and supervision, his BMW Art Car was produced in assistance with a team of BMW engineers and designers at Schmid Design in Bavaria. The challenge to create the BMW Art Car had to do with using a light material and a design that would not interfere with the racecar's aerodynamics and weight. Timing was also an issue, as there was only a two month window between the first design sketches and the Paris world premiere. This is why digital print on car wrapping vinyl was used covered by a double clear-coating to bring out the color. To apply hundreds of dynamic lines of Koons' design onto the car, CAD designs were translated from 3D into 2D for the printing process and then painstakingly applied to the entire car as well as onto individual spare parts. Koons design incorporates many bright contrasting colors to communicate the aesthetics of power. The concept design was transformed into hard eged lines of color. Graphics of debris were added to the rear sides and back of the car to similute the power of the car. Furthermore, two graphic rings on the rear of the car represent supersonic acceleration.

Koons and BMW

The germination of Koons’ collaboration with BMW began in 2003, when he expressed his desire to create a BMW Art Car. His relationship with BMW started more than two decades ago when he drove a BMW while residing in Munich, home to the BMW Group headquarters. Koons is known for his heartfelt appreciation of cars. Earlier this year he was even recognized by music icon Bono of U2 as one of the ideal artists to design a car that would make the world fall in love with automobiles again.

Koons’ creative process for the BMW Art Car mirrors techniques, some borrowed from transportation design and development, which he regularly employs for his artistic production. For example, in the creation of Koons’ monumental sculptures, his studio uses 3-D CAD models to evaluate the surfaces, assembles them via methods found in bike chop shops, and paints them in a manner based on sophisticated automotive painting techniques.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans race

In April 2010, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen announced the driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le Mans car #78.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest endurance race in all of sports car racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit containing closed public roads. The race is designed not only to test a car and driver’s ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour period.

French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain first had the idea of asking an artist to paint the car he himself would compete with. Taking up this initiative in 1975, American artist Alexander Calder painted a BMW racing car, thus laying the foundation. The Art Car experiment was soon continued: a year later, Calder Art Car co-driver Sam Posey introduced Frank Stella to the idea of BMW Art Cars when the New York-based artist covered a BMW with his typical grid-like pattern. Stella’s work was followed by a series of celebrated pop artists: Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Apart from Rauschenberg’s Art Car, all these took part in the Le Mans 24-hour race, some of them enjoying remarkable success.

The BMW M3 GT2

Derived from the BMW M3 high-performance sports car, the BMW M3 GT2 boasts a 4.0-liter V8 engine with a maximum output of 500 bhp, an upgraded chassis, racing-caliber brakes, and extensive use of lightweight materials. Able to reach 100 mph in 3.4 seconds, the BMW M3 GT2 is rapidly emerging as a real first year contender at this year’s event.

For the Comeback at 24 Le Mans BMW Motorsport is supported by numerous successful partners. This is why the BMW M3 GT2 will be labeled with the logos of Castrol, Crowne Plaza, Dunlop, Randstad, Sympatex, LuK, H&R, BBS and NGK for the race on the “Circuit de la Sarthe”.

BMW Art Cars

Since 1975, artists from throughout the world have turned BMW automobiles into art signifying a particular period through the Art Car program. In 2007, the latest installment was revealed with Olafur Eliasson’s “Your mobile expectations: BMW H2R project.” Many of the cars by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Rauschenberg, Hockney and Holzer have been exhibited in renowned museums throughout the world including the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, and the Shanghai Art Museum. They have been displayed at the BMW Museum in Munich, between 2006 and 2010 and many went on a world tour throughout Asia, Russia, Africa, India, the United States and Mexico. The Koons car number, “79,” pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car. The Warhol car was assigned the number “76,” an homage to the 1976 Frank Stella car, both of which raced at Le Mans.
The home of all BMW Art Cars is the BMW Museum in Munich. Starting in September, Koons’ 17th BMW Art Car will be presented there together with some of its predecessors.

With over 100 major projects worldwide, BMW Group cultural programs have been an integral part of the company’s contributions to society for almost 40 years. Besides contemporary art, architecture and design, classical music and jazz are key components of this engagement.

See also:


16th BMW Art Car by
Olafur Eliasson
All the BMW
Art Cars
Textile-covered car
by BMW

Posted on Wednesday June 2nd 2010 at 11:05 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Jan

    I thought last year’s art car by eliasson was the art car to end all art cars. Too bad they started painting again.

  • Stx

    2001 A Space Odyssey

  • wonderful colors … this car rocks!

  • Excellent! Loving the colors. Nobody will miss that car going past at the Le Mans

    • Indeed. It is very creative. It's like you are moving with a speed of light if you view it from top.

  • SouL

    what a waste of car and paint… it would have been nice if it was done on a wall or on something that people could buy and put in their house, you gets me!

  • Every other car will see it and get into an accident!

  • wow…………….good designer………..yaar

  • Felix

    This looks awesome. Beautiful colours. I especially like the doors where the pattern has been cut up slightly.

    Not so keen on the prisms coming out of the back. The stripes look like streaks of light to me so I’m not sure what the prisms are. Maybe they are meant to be the results of an explosion, so they’re chunks which have just been flung from the back of the car?

  • Olivier

    … if only the graphics on F1 cars would be as stunning as this one:

    The graphics of the much touted Lotus F1 car looks like a first year college student collage in comparison to this one. Virgin F1 is just plain vulgar. So is Hispania racing and SauberF1 (a pale whiteblue metallic would be awesome for Sauber). Even the well funded Mercedes GP looks boring.

    I hope the BMW car comes with matching helmets?!

  • very Koons. and a great outlet for his aesthetic.

  • g . String

    oh , yes ….

  • Laura

    I hate this man. He is not an artist, he is an art employer…

  • adam
  • booh

    I love you jeff Koons… I love you so much

  • tiffany

    what a lot of bullsh*t text just to explane the decoration of a vehicle in a traditional technique, only to promote the burning of oil, bah

  • tyler

    Meh.. looks almost exactly like the made famous M1 art cars. Nothing new here.

  • modular

    wow wow, very wicked!

    I don’t know if this is a supercar, an 80s car, a 90s car, or a new model. This is the perfect camouflage! ;)

  • I.P. Freely

    You can delete my non-offensive posts all you want but I still really don't like Jeff Koons.–or that paint job.

  • Bozo

    Awesome beyond awesome.

  • applejack

    f**king great job Jeff, impeccable execution of the ‘Koons’ feeling.

  • pearl Harbor

    now , what’ s needed is a pair of Tom Ford shades to handle it .


  • Fizz

    I applied ‘go-fast’ stripes on a Mini I once owned but didn’t seem to increase its speed. Someone told me it’s about the engine’s performance actually…

  • Perfect! I love it so much. Looks like a rainbow in a car.

  • This is very artistic car colors are very nice my dream car :)

  • Crazy! ahah ;-)

  • This model is practical for everyone.Much affordable but i got the Vios with airbag because it’s so important for safety purposes.

  • I need to read more on this topic…I admiring time and effort you put in your blog, because it is obviously one great place where I can find lot of useful info.

  • wow wow, very wicked!

    I don't know if this is a supercar, an 80s car, a 90s car, or a new model. This is the perfect camouflage! ;)

  • Creating a BMW car is art in itself, but pushing the boundary further by making a BMW Art car seems almost over doing it. I admire the artist’s ability to visualize his work on the car, but to most people, it just seems like a very colourful paint job. What is the real purpose of having an art car like that?