20th BMW Art Car Unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

  • The internationally renowned artist’s project transforms the BMW M Hybrid V8 racecar into a performative work of art.
  • Mehretu’s BMW Art Car will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race next month.
  • Pan-African workshops will extend the cooperation between BMW and the artist through 2026.

Paris – May 21, 2024: The 20th BMW Art Car was presented to the public for the first time today at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Designed by renowned New York-based contemporary artist Julie Mehretu, the project transforms the BMW M Hybrid V8 racecar into a performative work of art, continuing a longstanding tradition of BMW Art Cars and competitive racing.

Just a few weeks after its World Premiere in the French capital, the newest edition in the storied BMW Art Car collection will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“The whole BMW Art Car project is about invention, about imagination, about pushing limits of what can be possible. I don’t think of this car as something you would exhibit. I am thinking of it as something that will race in Le Mans. It’s a performative painting. My BMW Art Car was created in close collaboration with motorsport and engineering teams. The BMW Art Car is only completed once the race is over.”

— Julie Mehretu

The collaboration between BMW and Julie Mehretu also includes a joint commitment to a series of Pan-African Translocal Media Workshops for filmmakers, which will tour various African cities in 2025 and 2026 and will culminate in a major exhibition at the Zeitz Museum in Cape Town.

“The BMW Art Cars are an essential part of our global cultural commitment. For almost 50 years, we have been cooperating with artists who are just as fascinated by mobility and design as they are by technology and motorsports. Julie Mehretu’s vision for a racing car is an extraordinarily strong contribution to our BMW Art Cars series. Julie Mehretu has created more than an amazing Art Car. Her ideas provided the impetus for us to expand the cultural commitment of our Art Cars to promote the creativity of young artists in Africa.”

— Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

A Performative Painting is Created

Space, movement, and energy have always been central motifs in Julie Mehretu’s work. For the design of the 20th BMW Art Car, she transformed a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional representation for the first time, with which she succeeded in bringing dynamism into form.

Julie Mehretu used the color and form vocabulary of her monumental painting “Everywhen” (2021-2023) as a starting point for her design. The work is currently on view at the artist’s major retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and will subsequently become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to which it has been gifted.

Its abstract visual form results from digitally altered photographs, which are superimposed in several layers of dot grids, neon-colored veils and the black markings characteristic of Mehretu’s work.

“In the studio, where I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8, I was just sitting in front of the the painting and I thought: What would happen, if this car seemed to go through that painting and becomes affected by it? 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.”

— Julie Mehretu


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All photographs Copyright © 2024 BMW Group

BMW Art Cars with Le Mans History Come Together at the Concorso d’Eleganza

The fusion of image and vehicle was realized with the help of 3D mapping, with which the motif was transferred to the contours of the vehicle. The elaborate foiling allows for the fully designed BMW M Hybrid V8 to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. BMW

Motorsport drivers Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Robin Frijns (NED) and René Rast (GER) will enter the 20th BMW Art Car with starting number 20 at the Circuit de la Sarthe on June 15.

Like them, Julie Mehretu is also eagerly awaiting the race: “I went to see the BMW M Hybrid V8 race in Daytona, and this experience was inspiring. Designers, engineers, aerodynamicists and so many other creative minds are working on taking this vehicle to its extreme. When it goes out on the racetrack now, so many dreams will be fulfilled.”

Leading up to race day, Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car will make an appearance at the Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este in Lake Como on its way to Le Mans. As part of the exhibition for historic vehicles organized by the BMW Group and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este, Julie Mehretu herself will present the 20th edition of the BMW Art Car Collection.

It will be featured on the grounds of the Villa Erba together with the BMW Art Cars by Alexander Calder (1975), Frank Stella (1976), Roy Lichtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Jenny Holzer (1999) and Jeff Koons (2010), which also made their race debut at Le Mans.

Julie Mehretu will discuss the creation of the 20th BMW Art Car in an artist talk with Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design, on Sunday, May 26, 2024.