Jenny Holzer

1999 BMW V12 LMR

Protect me from what I want.

This and other provocative messages glare at the beholder from the otherwise white bodywork of the 15th Art Car. Instead of chrome, a light and shiny foil was used for the lettering to avoid increasing the weight of the BMW V12 LMR.

The twelve cylinder 380 bhp BMW is a true work of art, and a racing car as was seen immediately at the 24-hour race in Le Mans where the 380 bhp Art Car was brought into contact with the tarmac of the racetrack to be presented to the world press after a special lap of honour.

Known for being critical of western society, Holzer nevertheless grew up “surrounded by cars since I went to kindergarten,” as the daughter of a car dealer.


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BMW Art Car – 1999 Jenny Holzer V12 LMR

Jenny Holzer | USA

Jenny Holzer, born in 1950 in Gallipolis, Ohio, is a contemporary artist whose work defies easy classification. Since the late 1970s, she has rejected the language traditional to art — such as figurative images, expressive abstraction and ironic minimalism — in favor of words with no pictures.

Her most complex installations have combined LED messages with carved stone tablets, benches or sarcophagi arranged within a gallery or museum space. Quite often this has been only part of a larger whole that might include outdoor xenon projections, ads strategically placed around town, and even local radio and television spots.

There is probably no other female artist today who is to be seen around so much at an international level as Jenny Holzer. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Tate Gallery, the Musee National d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the Reichstag.

She was awarded the Leone d’Oro for best pavilion at the XLIV Bienalle di Venezia in 1990, the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum, Davos Switzerland in 1994, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy in Berlin for 1999/2000. In 1994 she received an honorary Doctorate of Arts from Ohio University. Holzer lives in Hoosick, New York.

1999 BMW V12 LMR

  • 12-cylinder V induction engine
  • Displacement: 5,990.5 cc
  • Power output: 580 bhp
  • Top speed: 340 km/h

Jenny Holzer and the BMW Art Car

Jenny Holzer is intent on talking plainly to the public at large — not just the art world. Accordingly, she has used billboards, posters, t-shirts, bumper-stickers, bronze plaques, park benches and stadium scoreboards to reach beyond the four walls of elite cultural institutions and authoritative mediators. As a result, her work has much to revitalize the usual notions of public art — suggesting that public truths can be filled with uncertainties and contradictions.

“For me, there isn’t a more suitable medium than a racing car.”

— Jenny Holzer

The BMW V12 Le Mans Roadster created by Jenny Holzer for this Year’s BMW Art Car features six short texts from her Truisms and Survival series, rendered in chrome letters and phosphorescent paint.

  • Protect me from what I want
  • The unattainable is invariably attractive
  • You are so complex you don’t respond to danger
  • Lack of charisma can be fatal
  • Monomania is a prerequisite of success
  • What urge will save us now that sex won’t?

Although the overall color scheme used is traditional to motor racing, Jenny Holzer was keen on BMW’s distinctive blue and white being visible through the 24 hours of a marathon race – with chrome letters reflecting the sky by day, and with light absorbing paint which glows blue at night.

Jenny Holzer’s BMW Art Car took part in the pre-qualifying race in Le Mans at the beginning of May 1999 and was presented to the international racing public as part of the race. Another BMW V12 LMR driven by Joachim Winkelhock (D), Pierluigi Martini (I) and Yannick Dalmas (F) was the winner of the 24-hours Sarthe marathon.