The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents an installation of BMW Art Cars designed by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg from February 12–24, 2009. The cars will be on view in the BP Grand Entrance, an admission-free area of the museum’s campus. LACMA is the first U.S. venue in a major worldwide tour of the cars; they next appear in New York City’s historic Grand Central Terminal, March 24–April 6, before heading to a three-city museum tour in Mexico.
“We are pleased that the BMW Art Cars have returned to LACMA. The David Hockney car was on exhibition as part of David Hockney: A Drawing Retrospective in 1996 and we are eager to welcome this wider selection by some of the world’s most celebrated artists to the museum,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director.
Rare, behind-the-scenes footage of the four cars will also be on display, complementing the presentation. The videos reveal a young Warhol constructing his car, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg discussing their inspirations and influences in creating their respective pieces, and various experts including Hervé Poulain, the race car driver and initiator of the Art Car Project, discussing the resulting impact of these works.
“Art, architecture, and design are very important to our daily business,” said Chris Bangle, BMW Chief Designer. “We are proud that some of the most respected artists in the world have interpreted their thoughts and their points of view through our cars. It is an interesting and inspiring process and we always look forward to the moment an artist draws the curtain.”
The BMW Art Car Project was originally conceived by the French racecar driver Hervé Poulain, who had the idea of inviting an artist to use an automobile as a canvas. In 1975, Poulain commissioned American artist Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racing car. Since then, prominent artists throughout the world have joined the elite cast of Calder, Stella, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg, and have designed sixteen BMW Art Cars, based on both racing and regular production vehicles. The most recent contributors to the BMW Art Car program are David Hockney (1995), Jenny Holzer (1999), and Olafur Eliasson (2007). New artists are chosen by a prestigious panel of international judges, and BMW is currently in discussions for the development of the seventeenth art car.
“BMW’s Art Cars have become a medium of expression for some of the world’s most distinguished artists and there is no better place to showcase these cars than at LACMA, which is ideally situated in a region that dedicates equal passion to art and driving,” noted Christopher Mount, design historian.
BMW Art Cars have been exhibited by numerous museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Louvre in Paris, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. Aside from being displayed at their home base at the BMW Museum in Munich, BMW Art Cars will continue to be shown at future international exhibitions. In 2006, they were sent on an extensive tour of Asia, which took them to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Korea, Australia, India, Taiwan, China, Russia and Africa. The Art Cars will continue to be exhibited worldwide through 2010.
LACMA’s permanent collection includes key works by the four artists whose art cars will be displayed, including Warhol’s Black and White Disaster, Stella’s Getty Tomb, Lichtenstein’s Cold Shoulder, and Rauschenberg’s print, Booster.