It’s been nearly half a century since Alexander Calder designed the original BMW Art Car, a 1975 3.0 CSL. Today, at Centre Pompidou in Paris, the 20th unique creation was unveiled in the French capital. Penned by New York-based Julie Mehretu, the colorful work is based on the M Hybrid V8 endurance race car.

The Ethiopian American contemporary artist took inspiration from Frank Stella’s 1976 3.0 CSL and Jenny Holzer’s 1999 V12 LMR. We’ll be seeing these three BMW Art Cars at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. These will be joined by Alexander Calder’s 1975 3.0 CSL, Roy Lichtenstein’s 1977 320i Turbo, Andy Warhol’s 1979 M1, and Jeff Koons’ 2010 M3 GT2. What do these cars have in common? All of them celebrated their racing debuts at Le Mans.

Racing in Le Mans

The flagship model from BMW M Motorsport will be on the starting grid on Circuit de la Sarthe on June 15. The M Hybrid V8 will try to repeat the success of its predecessor from 25 years ago. As a reminder, the V12 LMR triumphed at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns, and René Rast will take turns behind the wheel.

Since the #20 BMW Art Car must meet FIA’s regulations, the M Hybrid V8 isn’t actually painted like this. Instead, it wears a special wrap perfectly tailored to the body. The team behind the project relied on 3D mapping to match the size and shape of the foiling to the exact dimensions of the race car’s body panels. The end result is labeled as a “performative work of art” created with help from BMW’s engineering and motorsport teams.

As to how the design came to be, we’ll let Julie Mehretu explain her work: “The idea was to make a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I kept seeing that painting kind of dripping into the car. Even the kidneys of the car inhaled the painting.” The painting she’s referring to is “Everywhen,” which served as the starting point for the M Hybrid V8’s special look.

Julie Mehretu won the right to design the latest BMW Art Car in 2018 when she was unanimously selected by high-ranked jurors from the art world. The M Hybrid V8 continues an initiative started by French racing driver and art lover Hervé Poulain in the 1970s. The 640-horsepower endurance racer follows John Baldessari’s M6 GTLM from 2016.

Source: BMW