Art on wheels: These BMWs were transformed by famous artists


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From sports car to art car

Many artists throughout the world have taken to creating BMW art cars. These complexly designed, intricately detailed cars are each works of art. Whether they are racing cars or serve as advertisements, these twenty cars are worth checking out!

BMW art car by Alexander Calder

1. Alexander Calder

Sculptor Alexander Calder created the first BMW art car in 1976 with the 3.0 CLS model. Featuring a sporty “93” and a bright red, yellow, and blue paint job, this was the art car that started them all. 

BMW art car designed by Frank Stella

2. Frank Stella

The next year, Frank Stella followed in Calder’s footsteps, transforming another 3.0 CLS model into a work of art. His black-and-white grid design makes the car seem to evoke  graph paper. 

BMW art car designed by Roy Lichtenstein

3. Roy Lichtenstein

In 1977, BMW commissioned pop artist Roy Lichtenstein to create BMW’s third art car, this time working on a 320 model. The white base, black polka dots, and streaks of blue, yellow and green gave the vehicle a distinct, sporty look. 

BMW art car designed by Andy Warhol
Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons

4. Andy Warhol

Arguably one of the most famous artists of the last century, Andy Warhol was commissioned to craft BMW’s 1979 art car. This M1 Group 4 model features Warhol’s signature bright colors, including a vibrant teal and a deep red. The vehicle’s finishing touch, s black “76,” was added just before the car was set to race in the 1979 Le Mans. 

BMW art car designed by Ernst Fuchs

5. Ernst Fuchs

Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs found himself in charge of creating the 1982 BMW art car, this time working with a BMW E24 model. His instantly recognizable car features what looks like bright flames against a sleek black and blue base. 

BMW art car designed by Robert Rauschenberg

6. Robert Rauschenberg

BMW’s 1986 art car was designed by American artist Milton Earnest “Robert” Rauschenberg. This extremely detailed work features different beautiful painting on its hood, doors, and trunk. Working with just black and white, Rauschenberg was able to create a beautiful and memorable art car. 

BMW art car designed by Michael Nelson Jagamarra
cjkent / Wikimedia Commons

7. Michael Nelson Jagamarra

The next art car debuted in 1989. Designed by Australian artist Michael Nelson Jagamarra, this tribute to Papunya art was created in just seven days. This BMW E30 was driven by legendary Australian racer Tony Longhurst. 

BMW art car designed by Ken Done
Ahmad Ziyad Maricar / Wikimedia Commons

8. Ken Done

Ken Done designed the 1989 addition to BMW’s series of art cars, another BMW E30. The art car’s bright colors and strong brush strokes are an ode to modern Australia and its distinct elements come together to create a beautiful work of art. 

BMW art car designed by Matazo Kayama

9. Matazo Kayama

The following year, Japanese painter Matazo Kayama was commissioned to design a 535i model. The car’s theme “Snow, Moon and Cherry Blossoms” is evident in the amazing detail on the car’s hood. 

BMW art car designed by Cesar Manriquw

10. Cesar Manrique

Spanish artist and architect Cesar Manrique created the second BMW art car of 1990, working off a 730i model. This vehicle’s combination of bright and pastel colors makes this piece one of the most colorful art cars of all time. 

BMW art car designed by A.R. Penck
Arnaud 25 / Wikimedia Commons

11. A. R. Penck

A. R. Penck, pseudonym of German artist Ralf Winkler, created the 1991 BMW art car, transforming a Z1 model into a work of beauty. The car is bright red and features different figures and designs, including the artist’s stick figures, which have since become legendary. 

BMW art car designed by Esther Mahlangu

12. Esther Mahlangu

South African artist Esther Mahlangu was the first woman to create a BMW art car. In 1991 she transformed a BMW E34 into an astonishing ode to her heritage. The design is a nod to Mahlangu’s Ndebele art and is infused with symbolism. 

BMW art car designed by Sandro Chia
Olli1800 / Wikimedia Commons

13. Sandro Chia

Italian painter and sculptor Sandro Chia was commissioned to transform a BMW E36 into 1992’s art car. Chia yielded a work of art that features many different faces scattered across a busy design, seeming almost similar to graffiti. 

BMW art car designed by David Hockney
Edvvc / Wikimedia Commons

14. David Hockney

English pop artist David Hockney worked on an 850CSi model for BMW’s art car of 1995. The car was designed to mimic the car’s inner functions and mechanics, with an avant-garde twist. 

BMW art car designed by Jenny Holzer
Tim Wang / Wikimedia Commons

15. Jenny Holzer

In 1999, Jenny Holzer designed the final BMW art car of the century, transforming a V12 LMR. This car raced in the world famous Le Mans and features a striking message across its top: “Protect me from what I want.” 

BMW art car designed by Olafur Eliasson
Studio Olafur Eliasson © BMW Group / Olafur Eliasson (07/2007)

16. Olafur Eliasson

After an eight year break, BMW returned with a new art car in 2007. Designed by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, this piece is incredibly daring. Eliasson removed the vehicle’s outermost layer and replaced it with a combination of steel mesh, metal plates, and layers of ice. It is an incredibly unique vision that must be seen to believe. 

Robin Rhode's art created using a BMW
DavidWiz / Wikimedia Commons

17. Robin Rhode

In 2009, Robin Rhode created a new twist on the BMW art car, working with a BMW Z4 model. The South African artist used a remote control device to control not only the car’s movements, but when and where it would dispel different colored paints across its path. The result was a completely new take on BMW’s series of art cars. 

BMW art car designed by Jeff Koonz

18. Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons transformed a BWM M3 into the art car of 2010. This racing car, complete with the number 79, also raced in the Le Mans and its design received universal acclaim. Bright, colorful, and visually arresting, Koons created a legendary piece of vehicular art. 

BMW art car designed by John Baldessari

19. John Baldessari

In 2016, Los Angeles artist John Baldessari was commissioned to create BMW’s next art car, working with an M6 model. He used different splashes of red, yellow, blue and green against his white base. The vehicle’s passenger door features a painting of the BMW M6, while its other door reads “FAST.”

BMW art car designed by Cao Fei

20. Cao Fei

In 2017, BMW unveiled its latest addition to its series of art cars. Cao Fai is the first Chinese artist commissioned to create an art car, transforming a BMW M6 into a truly unbelievable work. Fai used different technologies to create this piece, employing elements of virtual and augmented reality to yield the finished art car. 

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