Rolls-Royce reveals new vision for its Muse art programme

Rolls-Royce reveals new vision for its Muse art programme

‘Everything departs from the rhinoceros horn! Everything departs from Jan Vermeer’s The Lacemaker! Everything ends up in the cauliflower!’ Salvador Dalí once proclaimed to a rapt audience of 2,000 listeners at a lecture in Paris. As the story goes, the Spanish surrealist artist had driven to Sorbonne University in his Rolls-Royce Phantom – stuffed to the brim with 500kg of cauliflower.

These days, artists are still using Rolls-Royce cars as a canvas (albeit with less whiffy results) by virtue of the car marque’s art programme, which has realised commissions by Tomas Saráceno, Dan Holdsworth, Pipilotti Rist and Ugo Rondinone among others since its inception in 2014. Ever forward-thinking, Rolls-Royce invited friends and art devotees to the Serpentine Galleries during Frieze to reveal a fresh vision for its art programme.

Moving Mountains, 2016, by Yang Fudong
Moving Mountains, 2016, by Yang Fudong
Moving Mountains, 2016, by Yang Fudong. Commissioned by the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Simply named Muse, the programme will branch out with two new biennial initiatives: the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge. ‘As we look to the future, Muse will enable us to continue this legacy with a vision to expand the horizon of moving image and ignite a dialogue with some of the most exciting creative visionaries of our time,’ noted Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars chief executive.

The cornerstone of Muse, the Dream Commission supports moving-image works created by emerging and mid-career artists in a two-phase process. A shortlist of four artists – nominated by a panel of art-world doyens – will vie for the commission, with an expert jury of curators, artists and museum directors selecting the final winner. Fittingly, the initiative is presented in partnership with two major art institutions: the Fondation Beyeler in Basel and the Serpentine Galleries in London.

The nominators include Daniel Birnbaum, director of Acute Art; artist Cao Fei; Zachary Kaplan, executive director of Rhizome; curator Pablo León de la Barra; and Suhanya Raffel, director of M+ museum. The jury is made up of artist Julien Isaac; Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Katrina Sedgwick, museum director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image; Terrie Sultan, museum director of Parrish Art Museum; and Theodora Vischer, senior curator at Fondation Beyeler.

Meanwhile, the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge will see leading creatives from the spheres of architecture, art, fashion, design and craft reimagine the sculptural figurine that has adorned the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce car for over a century, based on a chosen material – in the first instance, textile. The inaugural three participants will be announced in late 2019 and the commissions will be presented in 2020, before proceeding on a global tour. §

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