Julie Mehretu Unveils the 20th BMW Art Car: A Masterpiece in Motion

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car

Renowned contemporary artist Julie Mehretu has redefined the intersection of art and technology with the unveiling of the 20th BMW Art Car, a BMW M Hybrid V8, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. This striking vehicle, set to compete in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, is not just a race car but a dynamic, three-dimensional work of art.

Mehretu, known for her intricate and abstract visual language, has brought her unique artistic style to the realm of high-performance racing. Drawing inspiration from her monumental painting “Everywhen” (2021-2023), she has transformed the BMW M Hybrid V8 into a performative painting, where art and speed converge.

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Courtesy of BMW

“The whole BMW Art Car project is about invention, imagination, and pushing the limits of what is possible,” Mehretu explained. “I don’t think of this car as something to exhibit; it’s a performative painting that races at Le Mans. My BMW Art Car was created in close collaboration with motorsport and engineering teams.”

Mehretu’s design process began with digitally altered photographs superimposed onto multiple layers of dot grids, neon-colored veils, and her signature black markings. This method allowed her to create a complex, abstract visual form that seamlessly integrates with the car’s structure. The design brings her two-dimensional artwork into a three-dimensional space, using 3D mapping technology to transfer her motifs onto the vehicle’s contours.

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Courtesy of BMW

“In the studio, I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8 sitting in front of the painting, and I thought: What would happen if this car seemed to go through that painting and became affected by it?” Mehretu said. “The idea was to make a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I kept seeing that painting kind of dripping into the car. Even the kidneys of the car inhaled the painting.”

The technical execution of this vision involved collaboration with Race Spirit, a German team specializing in high-resolution car wrapping. The process required significant computational power and precision to ensure the design adhered perfectly to the car’s form, meeting the stringent requirements of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car is a testament to the power of abstract expressionism applied to automotive design. By bringing her unique artistic vision into the high-speed world of racing, Mehretu has expanded the boundaries of what an art car can be. Her creation transforms the BMW M Hybrid V8 into a moving canvas, where each race at Le Mans becomes a dynamic performance of art and engineering.

This milestone in the BMW Art Car series not only enriches the project’s legacy but also pushes its artistic and technological limits, demonstrating the transformative potential of contemporary art in unexpected domains.

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