BMW's Art Cars start North American tour in Los Angeles

Click above to view Warhol, Stella, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg's BMW Art Cars in high resolution

BMW's world famous Art Cars have been an interesting project since their inception in 1975, attracting some of the world's most notable artists to leave their mark on the Bavarian automobiles. But while the collection of sixteen rolling works of art is permanently housed in BMW's museum in Munich, they've also traveled the world on various tours. The next one has already arrived in North America, with an exhibit opening today at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Four of the project's most famous works, those of Andy Warhol, Frank Stella (pictured above), Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, will be on display, free of charge, in the BP Grand Entrance, from February 12-24, before they head off to New York's Grand Central Terminal from March 24-April 6, en route to three locations in Mexico thereafter.

The display is complemented by a behind-the-scenes video of the artists at work, which you can view along with the press release after the jump and the images in the gallery below, but if you're in the LA area, we'd suggest stopping by the LACMA to see these spectacular mobile works of art for yourself.

[Source: BMW]

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Rare, behind-the-scenes video footage of the artists complements the installation

Los Angeles - 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.

About BMW and Contemporary Art

BMW has a long-standing commitment to contemporary art starting with Gerhard Richter's 1972 commission of three large-scale paintings for the foyer of the company headquarters in Munich. Karl Schwanzer's architectural post-war icon, the "four cylinder" building, marked the beginning of the company's emphasis on an innovative, dynamic style of construction which was extended in 2005 with the central building of the new BMW Leipzig Plant, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. BMW has been engaged in the sponsorship of cultural formats for more than thirty years with hundreds of international commitments. In each endeavor, the utmost importance is attached to total freedom of creative potential-recognizing that this is just as much a guarantee for groundbreaking achievements in art as it is for the most crucial innovations within a successful business enterprise.

Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography-and represent Los Angeles' uniquely diverse population. Today, the museum features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a new contemporary museum on its campus, BCAM. With this expanded space for contemporary art, innovative collaborations with artists, and an ongoing transformation project, LACMA is creating a truly modern lens through which to view its rich encyclopedic collection.

General Information: LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90036. For more information about LACMA and its programming, call 323 857-6000 or visit

Museum Hours and Admission: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, noon–8 pm; Friday, noon–9 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11 am–8 pm; closed Wednesday. Adults $12; students 18+ with ID and senior citizens 62+ $8; children 17 and under are admitted free. Admission (except to specially ticketed exhibitions) is free the second Tuesday of every month and on Target Free Holiday Mondays. After 5 pm, every day the museum is open, LACMA's "Pay What You Wish" program encourages visitors to support the museum with an admission fee of their choosing.

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