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BMW’s 20th Official Art Car Is A Wild Le Mans Hypercar Given A Graffiti-Like Twist

Key Takeaways

  • BMW reveals 20th official art car, designed for Le Mans Hypercar by Julie Mehratu.
  • CEO Oliver Zipse sees art cars as essential for connecting cultural and promoting creativity of young African artists.
  • Official BMW Art Cars express ideas, while non-official art cars promote events and products.

BMW has revealed only its 20th official art car ever, with a stunning new look created by contemporary artist Julie Mehratu. The look is applied to the BMW M Hybrid V8, the Munich-based automaker’s entry into Le Mans Hypercar competition, and the design of the colorful livery is inspired by motorsport; Mehratu says “the BMW Art Car is only completed once the race is over.”

The design is also influenced by Mehratu’s Everywhen painting, which is currently hanging in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the abstract effect is created with digitally altered photos that are superimposed with layers of dot grids, neon-colored veils, and black markings that characterize all of the artist’s work.

“In the studio, when I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8, I was just sitting in front of 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 Mehratu, contemporary artist and designer of the 20th BMW Art Car.

BMW’s Long History Of Art Cars Continued

Art cars may seem inconsequential, but BMW CEO Oliver Zipse views them as an “essential” means of showing the automaker’s connection to culture. “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,” said the CEO, adding that Julie Mehretu’s ideas gave the brand impetus “to expand the cultural commitment” of art car to “promote the creativity of young artists in Africa.”

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While there have been several Bimmers with visually striking exterior designs, very few are ever considered true BMW Art Cars, and those that do are created by world-renowned artists as a means of expression, while non-official art cars, like the i5 M60 Wetland, are more about promotion of events and products. Official BMW Art Cars are also typically based on special cars, not mid-range EVs.

Art In Motion

As we touched on at the outset, Mehratu’s creation will go racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns, and René Rast sharing driving duties. Fittingly, the car will enter using the number 20. Before then, the Art Car will be presented at Villa d’Este, where a new design concept will also be revealed. Here, the M Hybrid V8 will be accompanied by the Art Cars of Alexander Calder (1975), Frank Stella (1976), Roy Lichtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), Jenny Holzer (1999), and Jeff Koons (2010), each of which was also debuted at Le Mans.


New BMW i5 Art Car Showcases Enhanced Color-Changing Tech

The art car was designed by South African artist Esther Mahlangu, who also worked on a 5 Series in the 90s.

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