For all the petrolheads out there, who also happen to be art enthusiasts as well, BMW has some exciting news. Their famous project called Art Car features world-renowned artists conveying their artistic vision onto the body of a car, practically creating a moving display of their work. Marking the 40th anniversary of this unique project, BMW has announced the names of the artists selected to participate in the next round of this singular endeavor. International, notable museum directors and curators are gathered to form an expert jury for this task, and they agreed upon 2 names selected for the 2017 edition. Joining the ranks of A-listers previously involved in the project, such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons and many others, the announced artists for the next series of BMW Art Car are John Baldessari and Cao Fei. This is also the first time in the project’s history that two cars are announced simultaneously. Both of the new Art Car designs are to be finalized in the coming year, and the completed works are supposed to compete on the track in the 2017 racing season.
The renowned leading Californian Conceptual artist, John Baldessari (84), will be the oldest person to produce a BMW art car. The American artist himself is an owner of a BMW, and as he stated, this would be the fastest artwork he ever made. Baldessari is known for his wry works of photos and text, garnering worldwide attention for placing brightly colored dots over his subjects’ faces. Even though he has worked with a variety of mediums and materials, including photography, montage, painting, and text, to create complex compositions exploring the cultural iconography, this would be the first time the Southern Californa artist has worked with a three-dimensional object. Baldessari said that he was very honored by the nomination from his respected peers, and that this project enables him to create art which exists outside of a museum, which is very important to him. Interestingly, the other artist announced, Cao Fei (37), will be the youngest one ever involved with the project. The Chinese artist is perhaps best known for her online project RMB City, which is a virtual world designed for the popular alternate-reality game Second Life. Fei creates video installations and new media works which explore perceptions of reality and blur the lines between the virtual and the real. As she stated, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the magnificent list of BMW Art Car artists. She perceives acceleration as a concept deeply connected to the entangled contemporary relationships between velocity, energy and people.
BMW has been an innovative company staying ahead of the competition not only in engineering and design, but also in recognizing the power of the arts. Back in the early days of the Internet, they led the way with BMW Films, which was a website that featured short films produced by well-known directors like Guy Ritchie and Ang Lee. But, the collaboration between the car company and great artists began 40 years ago when Hervé Poulain asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint his BMW 3.0 CSL race car. The first BMW Art Car was born. Through the next four decades, the German company has produced 17 unique cars painted by some of the world-famous artists. Although the editions were issued at irregular intervals, they included unique works of art from the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Ólafur Elíasson, many other international artists and most recently - Jeff Koons.
Interestingly, Andy Warhol painted his BMW art car in under 24 minutes, when the filming crew arrived at the location, he was already finished. Olafur Eliasson shrouded his BMW H2R in an ice-covered carapace in 2007, rendering it completely useless. With some of the cars not actually being functional and able to be driven, questions of value and pricing become challenging. For example, Koons, being the priciest contemporary artist whose works sell for record-breaking $58.4 million at auctions, painted a multicolored BMW GT2 M3, which is likely worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The car company declined to comment on its value, but you can get a mini toy version for $850.00. In fact, just because a famous artist, or not, paints a particular car, that doesn’t necessarily increase the worth, actually, it can decrease the resale value of a vintage car. In the end, it all comes down to personal taste and public acclaim. Basically, a painted car is worth only exactly as much as someone is willing to pay for it. The element of novelty may push the price up, since the buyers are drawn to the sense of uniqueness, and these moving pieces of art are definitely unique. Looking at an example of rarity, a Frank Stella BMW M1 was made even rarer by the fact it was an unofficial intervention by the artist in the late ‘70s. Even though the M1 is not officially part of the BMW Art Car Collection, it sold for $854,000 at a 2011 Bonhams auction. So, ultimately, it would be really interesting to see just how much people would be willing to dish out for some of the fastest artworks in the world.
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