Sandro Chia

1992 BMW 3-Series Racing Prototype

Italian born painter Sandro Chia was contracted to paint a touring racing car prototype from the BMW 3 series. The silhouettes and portraits on the paintwork challenge the observer to consider looking at himself in the mirror.

“A car is a coveted object in our society.”

— Sandro Chia

Chia explains that, as such, a car is exposed to the stares of observers. “I decorated the surface of this car to represent these stares.” Mobility is certainly of great importance to this artist as he often commutes between his homes in New York, London and Tuscany.


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Sandro Chia | Italy

Sandro Chia was born in 1946 in Florence, and now lives in New York, London and Tuscany. In the magnificent Renaissance city where he spent his childhood and youth he became familiar with great works of art in a relaxed, almost playful manner. The story goes that playing football there in squares laid out by the great Brunelleschi was an experience that never deserted him later in life.

During the 1970s, Chia achieved prominence with significant one-man exhibitions in Rome, Turin and Cologne. A scholarship enabled him to work for a year in Monchengladbach. By 1982 his works were being shown by the Guggenheim Museum in New York, at the documenta 7 in Kassel and at the Zeitgeist exhibition in Berlin.

He is regarded as one of the most significant artists in the Italian “Transavanguardia,” and sees himself as a neo-expressionist in whose figurative painting traces of Carra, de Chirico and Picasso, but also of Mantegna and Giorgione can be found.

A major exhibition held in the Berlin National Gallery during 1992 enabled art-lovers to renew their acquaintance with his oeuvre and see various new works for the first time.

1992 BMW 3-Series Racing Prototype

  • 4-cylinder inline engine
  • 4 valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2,494 cc
  • Power output: 370 bhp
  • Top speed: 300 km/h

Sandro Chia and the BMW Art Car

Sandro Chia’s pictorial language is in light-hearted contrast to the often tough milieu of the big city, to which he repeatedly feels himself drawn: figures of mythical appearance parade themselves before us in a timeless, bucolic Arcadian setting.

As a child, Chia drew graffiti on cars, but it must be said that he has revised his attitude somewhat in the interim period:

“The automobile is a sought-after possession in society,” he reflects, “and all eyes are upon it. People look closely at cars. The one I have painted here reflects their gaze. Like a mirror, it confronts the people who look at it.”

When he sees a surface he can hear it calling to him “Paint me, paint me!” And this is precisely what happened with this competition car, recalls Sandro Chia as he appends his signature to the latest BMW Art Car, dates it October 9, 1992, and declares his creation complete.

Looking at his car, he reflects: “I have created an image – a world! Look at anything hard enough and it turns into a face. And a face is a focal point of life and of the world.”