Saturday, 4 August 2012

Car Parking......the BMW Way!

As a result of my usual lack of ontheballness (check out the next addition of the OED, ontheballness will be in there!), I nearly missed out on this one.

For the last couple of weeks the Great Eastern Street NCP Car Park has been taken over by the ICA to present Art Drive! The BMW Art Car Collection 1975 - 2010. Sadly, it closes at 9.00pm today, so the opportunity to catch it is now quite limited.

For the last 35 years BMW have been commissioning prominent artists to decorate their cars and in that time 17 vehicles have been added to the collection. All but one of those vehicles have been on display in this innovative location since the 21st of July.

The origins of the collection lie with auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain, who had always wanted to add "artistic beauty to an already perfect object such as a racing car". In 1973, he invited his friend, the sculptor Alexander Calder, to decorate such a car, which he enthusiastically accepted. The only fly in the ointment was that he didn't have a suitable race car to play with.

3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder (1975)

Fortunately Poulain was referred to the head of BMW Motorsport by Jean Todt (at the time a rally co-driver and now President of the FIA). A 3.0 CSL Coupé which was to be entered in the 1975 Le Mans 24 Hour race seemed like the perfect canvas. The design was worked up on a model by Calder and was applied by Walter Maurer in Munich. Sadly, after a promising start, the car was retired due to a technical fault but the connection between BMW and the art world was established and continues to this day.

3.0 CSL by Frank Stella (1976)

The collection consists of both road and race cars, but to my mind the best of them are all racers. These cars are not just trailer queens either. Most, if not all, have been raced and raced hard.

320 Group by Roy Lichtenstein (1977)

Just what constitutes good art is, of course, in the eye of the beholder but some of these cars just don't work for me. In particular, I don't like the M1 painted by Andy Warhol, but what do I know. If it had been my car I would have been tempted to have it stripped and resprayed. That would have been a huge mistake of course. A little research has shown that these days a good M1 would probably cost you about £150,000. In the unlikely event that the Warhol car should come onto the market, I'm guessing that you could add another zero to that figure at the very least. It is amazing what the daubings of a prominent name in the art world can be worth!

M1 Group 4 by Andy Warhol (1979)

Whatever our views on the individual vehicles, BMW should be applauded for their continuing to add to this collection. Also a huge thanks is due to the ICA for bringing the collection to London.

635 CSi by Ernst Fuchs (1982)

Rather than comment on each car, I'll just throw in a few photographs and allow you to make up your own mind but just for the record my personal favourites are the batmobiles by Alexander Calder and Frank Stella, the V12 LMR by Jenny Holzer, the M3 GTR by Sandro Chia and, especially, the M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons,which looks as if it's doing 100MPH.......even if it is sitting in a multi-story car park!

635 CSi by Robert Rauschenberg (1986)

Just one final thing, what about the missing vehicle? In 2007 Olafur Eliasson took a record holding hydrogen powered H2R research vehicle and replaced the body with a reflective steel and mesh shell. With the vehicle in a custom made refrigerator unit, it was sprayed with water over several days to gradually create layers of ice!" A sight to see I would imagine.

"Lit from within and glowing in its frozen atmosphere, the resultant work measures more than 5 feet high, 17 feet long, and 8 feet wide. Viewers enter the environment in limited numbers to enjoy an intimate, immersive, and social engagement with the artwork - a fundamental aspect of Eliasson's art."

This was first shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and subsequently at Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, in 2008. Not exactly the most portable of artworks, I'm not sure if it has been shown any where since.

M3 Group 4 by Michael Jagamara Nelson (1989)

M3 Group A by Ken Done (1989)

535i by MatazoKayama (1990)

730i by César Manrique (1990)

Z1 by A R Penck (1991)

525i by Esther Mahlangu (1991)

M3 GTR by Sandro Chia (1992)

850 CSi by David Hockney (1995)

V12 LMR by Jenny Holzer (1999)

M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons (2012)

M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons (2012)

M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons (2012)


  1. I was looking for the content related to how much does it cost to ship a car when I came across this article. It is an amazing feeling to see that like me many other people also love to decorate their vehicles and various competitions are conducting for them. I will surely take part in one of them.

    1. All cars looks awesome because of design and the creativity of design on this car was just mind blowing.

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