David Hockney

1995 BMW 850 CSi

On April 20, 1995 the British born artist David Hockney placed his signature on the BMW 850CSi marking the completion of the 14th Art Car and several months of hard work. The artist aimed to portray the very innermost depths of the car. The result was an automobile whose contents were thoroughly turned out to the viewer.

The more observant will notice the stylized suction vent on the bonnet and the contours of a driver on the door. Hockney was born in Bradford, England in 1937 and has been one of the most stunning and influential members of the art world since the early 1960s.


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David Hockney | USA

Born in Bradford, England in 1937, David Hockney came to the forefront of the international art scene in the early sixties and has been one of its most influential protagonists ever since. He studied in Bradford and at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating in 1962, and soon achieved renown as one of the major artistic contributors to the “Swinging Sixties.”

Hockney has lived in the United States, to be more precise Los Angeles, since 1964, creating the artistic oeuvre associate with his name today amongst connoisseurs worldwide – images of sunshine, swimming pools, palm trees and clear blue sky. He developed his own individual style of pop art which became as popular as that of Andy Warhol.

Working in California, London, and in the course of his travels, Hockney focuses his attention on people and their environment. His portraits in particular highlight the individuality of their subjects, Hockney’s parents and Hockney’s friends.

In the eighties, Hockney worked extensively with photography and in theatre design, two entirely different artistic challenges which fundamentally altered his approach and influence him until this day – even though Hockney has meanwhile returned to painting.

1995 BMW 850 CSi

  • V-12 engine
  • Displacement: 5,576 cc
  • Power output: 380 bhp
  • Top speed: 250 km/h

David Hockney and the BMW Art Car

“BMW gave me the model of the car and I kept looking at it and looking at it, and then, I must admit, I also looked at the other Art Cars. In the end I thought, probably it would be good to perhaps show the car so you could be looking inside it.”

The process leading up to the final work lasted several months, as Hockney not only concerned himself with the external surfaces of the car. He persisted in his idea, and endowed his work with an unusual transparency by allowing the inside of the car to be outwardly visible. Stylized intake manifolds of the engine appear on the bonnet, the driver is visible through the door – and, of course, a dachshund, too.

In his opinion, “Driving and design go hand in hand in a way. Traveling around in a car means experiencing landscapes – which is one of the reasons why I chose green as a color.”

There can be no doubt of Hockney’s love of cars. He enjoys driving immensely, especially when it takes him through the hilly countryside along the winding roads of California, his chosen home.

He is extremely fond of listing to classical music on the road. Clearly a person who understands how to live and enjoy life. His sensitive and equally distinctive perception of the experience of driving has led to a powerful interpretation of that experience.

Hockney’s personal resume on his work for BMW is unusually short, and yet it says all we need to know:

“It was lots of fun.”

“The car has wonderful contours and I followed them,” says David Hockney of the BMW 850CSi he designed. He admits to having playfully “destroyed” the outer surfaces of the car, whilst at the same time he respected its overall design.