Olafur Eliasson returns to BMW's racing roots for its latest Art Car

BMW's Art Car Collection
The latest addition to BMW's Art Car Collection comes in the form of Olufar Eliasson’s BMW H2R project
(Image credit: BMW)

Since 1975, outstanding artists from across the globe have collaborated with BMW in its Art Car Collection. Reflecting the cultural development of art, design and technology, the series has seen the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and David Hockney each make a unique artistic statement about the appearance and meaning of cars in their era.

Initially the Art Car concept was developed by auctioneer and racing driver Herve Poulain, and thus the collection was born. In fact, it was his friend and artist Alexander Calder who created the first design, transforming Poulain’s BMW racing car into a work of art, which he later raced at Le Mans.

With such an enthusiastic response from the audience and car fanatics from this first design, BMW (opens in new tab) established its Art Car Collection. Although initially using racing cars that had participated in the Le Mans 24-hour race, BMW later branched out and included its production cars.

The latest addition to the Art Car Collection comes in the form of Olufar Eliasson’s BMW H2R project. Returning to the series’ racing roots, Eliasson has transformed the hydrogen-powered car, and is currently being exhibited in ‘Your mobile expectations H2R project’ as part of his retrospective show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The Art Car concept

Alexander Calder, Art Car, 1975, BMW 3.0 CSL. Initially the Art Car concept was developed by auctioneer and racing driver Herve Poulain, and thus the collection was born. In fact, it was his friend and artist Alexander Calder who created the first design, transforming Poulain’s BMW racing car into a work of art (pictured), which he later raced at Le Mans

(Image credit: BMW)

Frank Stella, Art Car

Frank Stella, Art Car, 1976, BMW 3.0 CLS

(Image credit: BMW)

Ken Done, Art Car

Ken Done, Art Car, 1989, BMW M3 group A racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

A racing version

Ken Done, Art Car, 1989, BMW M3 group A racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

Matazo Kayama

Matazo Kayama, Art Car, 1990, BMW 535i

(Image credit: BMW)

Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder, Art Car, 1975, BMW 3.0 CSL

(Image credit: BMW)

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Art Car, 1977, BMW 320i group 5 racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

César Manrique

César Manrique, Art Car, 1990, BMW 730i

(Image credit: BMW)

César Manrique

César Manrique, Art Car, 1990, BMW 730i

(Image credit: BMW)

A. R. Penck

A. R. Penck, Art Car, 1991, BMW Z1

(Image credit: BMW)

Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg, Art Car, 1986, BMW 635 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs, Art Car, 1982, BMW 635i CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

Michael Jagamara Nelson

Michael Jagamara Nelson, Art Car, 1989, BMW M3 group A racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

Esther Mahlangu

Esther Mahlangu, Art Car, 1991, BMW 525i

(Image credit: BMW)

David Hockney

David Hockney, Art Car, 1995, BMW 850 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

David Hockney

David Hockney, Art Car, 1995, BMW 850 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW Art Car

BMW Art Car miniature Andy Warhol on large scale

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW Art Car miniature

BMW Art Car miniature Ernst Fuchs on large scale

(Image credit: BMW)

David Hockney

David Hockney, Art Car, 1995, BMW 850 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

Sandro Chia

Sandro Chia, Art Car, 1992, BMW 3 Series saloon-car racing prototype

(Image credit: BMW)

Michael Jagamara Nelson

Michael Jagamara Nelson, Art Car, 1989, BMW M3 group A racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

Robert Rauschenbetg

Robert Rauschenbetg, Art Car, 1986, BMW 635 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

Ernst Fuchs

Ernst Fuchs, Art Car, 1982, BMW 635 CSi

(Image credit: BMW)

Roy Lichtenstein

Roy Lichtenstein, Art Car, 1977, BMW 320i group 5 racing version

(Image credit: BMW)

Frank Stella

Frank Stella, Art Car, 1976, BMW 3.0 CSL

(Image credit: BMW)

BMW’s racing roots for its latest Art Car

(Image credit: BMW)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.