Homage to Andy Warhol on four wheels
During the German Formula 1 Grand Prix, BMW will be paying very special homage to the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. To mark the 30th anniversary of the BMW M1, Warhol's BMW Art Car (1979) will again be taking to the starting grid. The setting for the celebration is the revival of the most spectacular stable trophy in racing history - the BMW M1 Procar series.
Both on 19th and 20th July 2008, ten of these cars will be on the starting grid in Hockenheim. Jochen Neerpasch, former head of BMW Motorsport GmbH and initiator of BMW M1 development, will take Andy Warhol's Art Car round the track on a few of laps of honour.
During this spectacular ride, the co-pilot is also bound to look pretty impressive. Frank Stella is not only one of the most significant artists of the 20th century, but also an enthusiastic racing car driver. Moreover, three years before Warhol, he himself designed the BMW 3.0 CSL, a "rolling work of art" which raced at Le Mans in 1976.
Warhol himself was just as enthusiastic as usual: "I love that car. It has turned out better than the artwork". Instead of first designing a scale model and leaving the final completion to his assistants as his predecessors did, the pop art legend painted the BMW M1 from the beginning to the end himself - and signed on the wet paint using his fingers. "If a car is really fast, all contours and colours will become blurred".
Warhol's BMW Art Car is certainly the most well-known work of art in the collection. The M1 shines with bright, thickly applied colours: Red, green, blue and yellow - as a colourful expression of the artist's intention to create a visual image of movement. The pop artwork is the last Art Car to take to the starting grid at the legendary 24-hour race at Le Mans, setting the gleaming blaze of colour into movement live on the racetrack. The 470 bhp car sporting the number "76" seized an outstanding sixth place in the overall rating and was second in its class. During this period, the pilots, Hervé Poulain, Marcel Mignot and Manfred Winkelhock clocked up 3,874.837 kilometres in the M1, achieving an average speed of 163.386 km/h. Now the car is on the racetrack once again.
"This is the fulfilment of a dream for us. Of course, we are fully aware of the responsibility towards the Art Cars as works of art. But Warhol's M1 really also belongs on the racetrack and we are very happy to make this exception on the occasion of the anniversary year", explains a thrilled Karl Baumer, head of BMW Group Classic.
BMW Motorsport Chief Mario Theissen is also looking forward to the Procar race: "30 years ago, the M1 was presented as the first independent car of the BMW Motorsport GmbH of that time. A racing car that BMW customers could also drive on the road - this was a unique project which also posed some problems with the authorities. No one expected the BMW M1 Procar series to become such a huge success. Just mentioning it still sparks enthusiasm today. This comeback is a token of our gratitude to fans."
With Warhol's car and Frank Stella driving it, the event is also a token of gratitude to all art lovers. And a highlight for the BMW Art Car Collection: The corporate collection, which was established in 1975, now comprises 16 works by renowned artists, including the likes of David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and, most recently, Olafur Eliasson. All of them created in the form of a "rolling sculpture" a unique artistic statement on the image and significance of the automobile of our day and age.
Furthermore, the first artists made the racing car an integral part of their creativity. This was originally initiated by the French racing driver Hervé Poulain, likewise a collector and auctioneer who was well-acquainted with artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. During the early 1970s, Poulain was the first to commission an artist - namely Alexander Calder - with the design of his racing car. This kick-off led to the development of the long-lasting BMW Art Car programme. In addition to being permanently showcased at the Munich BMW Museum, automobiles from this collection have been exhibited at numerous museums and galleries all over the world, including the Louvre in Paris, Palazzo Grassi in Venice and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao.