The BMW Art Car created by Jeff Koons will participate in the 2010 edition 24 hours of Le Mans race. The BMW Art Car is based on a M3 GT2 which has been homologated to compete in this year’s famous endurance race with Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk
Muller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) behind the wheel.
This is the 17th BMW Art Car and Jeff Koons’s theme with vibrant colors, speed and explosions suggests the car’s power motion and bursting energy.
The BMW M3 GT2 has a 4.0-litre V8 engine under the bonnet which produces 500 bhp. Some motorsport derived enhancements include an upgraded chassis, high performance brakes and the use of lightweight materials. 
BMW press release :
Paris. At the premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car Jeff
Koons unveiled and signed his car in front of 300 international VIP
guests on June 1 in the Centre Pompidou, one of the world’s most
prestigious cultural institutions for modern and contemporary art. It is
the same place where Roy Lichtenstein back in 1977 first presented and
signed his Art Car.
In the spirit of Calder, Stella, Lichtenstein, Warhol, BMW announced
this year that the 17th Art Car created by Jeff Koons will race where
the first rolling pieces of art by legendary artists raced – at the 24
Hours of Le Mans in France on June 12-13, 2010. Koons’ canvas is a BMW
M3 GT2, which was homologated to compete at this year’s running of the
world’s most famous endurance race.
On June 2, between 11 am to 9 pm, the public will have the chance to
see the Art Car free of charge in the Forum of the Centre Pompidou. At
5.30 pm Jeff Koons will participate in a book signing at the official
book store of the museum before he will talk about his work in
conversation with Alain Seban, President of the Centre Pompidou, at 6 pm
at the Forum of the museum.
The Design Process
As part of his creative process, the artist collected images of race
cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions. The
resulting artwork of bright colors conceived by Koons is evocative of
power, motion and bursting energy. Its silver interior along with the
powerful exterior design, the Art Car will impart a dynamic appearance
even when it’s standing still.
“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot
of energy,” said Koons. “You can participate with it, add to it and let
yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that
hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car – it’s really to
connect with that power.”
Koons has been in an intense collaboration with BMW’s team in Munich
for months – melding his skill with sophisticated BMW engineering – to
ensure that the 17th BMW Art Car will be race-ready for the 24 Hours of
Le Mans.
Traveling back and forth to Germany many times since the February 2
announcement that Koons would create the 17th BMW Art Car, the artist
has worked with the BMW engineering and design teams to conduct in-depth
explorations of materials and application options that will prove
crucial to optimizing both the aesthetic and aerodynamic attributes of
the race car. Working with actual 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) models
of the BMW M3 GT2, Koons could simulate the application of the graphic
to the car’s surfaces and evaluate it from all angles.
Koons even donned a helmet and joined BMW’s American Le Mans Series
race team for testing in Sebring, Florida, on February 23. Koons was
able to experience the M3 GT2 at race speed to further inspire his
design. As Koons describes it, he witnessed “the raw unfiltered
performance” of the M3 GT2 from the seat of a historic BMW M1 race car.
Koons also drove a BMW M3 Coupe on the circuit to further the dynamic
Under Koons’ direct guidance and supervision, his BMW Art Car was
produced in assistance with a team of BMW engineers and designers at
Schmid Design, (ORT), Bavaria. The challenge to create the BMW Art Car
had to do with using a light material and a design that would not
interfere with the racecar’s aerodynamics and weight. Timing was also an
issue, as there was only a two month window between the first design
sketches and the Paris world premiere. This is why digital print on car
wrapping vinyl was used covered by a double clear-coating to bring out
the color. To apply hundreds of dynamic lines of Koons’ design onto the
car, CAD designs were translated from 3D into 2D for the printing
process and then painstakingly applied to the entire car as well as onto
individual spare parts. Koons design incorporates many bright
contrasting colors to communicate the aesthetics of power. The concept
design was transformed into hard eged lines of color. Graphics of debris
were added to the rear sides and back of the car to similute the power
of the car. Furthermore, two graphic rings on the rear of the car
represent supersonic acceleration.
Koons and BMW
The germination of Koons’ collaboration with BMW began in 2003, when
he expressed his desire to create a BMW Art Car. His relationship with
BMW started more than two decades ago when he drove a BMW while residing
in Munich, home to the BMW Group headquarters. Koons is known for his
heartfelt appreciation of cars. Earlier this year he was even recognized
by music icon Bono of U2 as one of the ideal artists to design a car
that would make the world fall in love with automobiles again.
Koons’ creative process for the BMW Art Car mirrors techniques, some
borrowed from transportation design and development, which he regularly
employs for his artistic production. For example, in the creation of
Koons’ monumental sculptures, his studio uses 3-D CAD models to evaluate
the surfaces, assembles them via methods found in bike chop shops, and
paints them in a manner based on sophisticated automotive painting
The 24 Hours of Le Mans race
In April 2010, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen announced the
driver line-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk
Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg
Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le
Mans car #78.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest endurance race in all
of sports car racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans,
Sarthe, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, it is
organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and runs on a circuit
containing closed public roads. The race is designed not only to test a
car and driver’s ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24-hour
French auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain first had the idea
of asking an artist to paint the car he himself would compete with.
Taking up this initiative in 1975, American artist Alexander Calder
painted a BMW racing car, thus laying the foundation. The Art Car
experiment was soon continued: a year later, Calder Art Car co-driver
Sam Posey introduced Frank Stella to the idea of BMW Art Cars when the
New York-based artist covered a BMW with his typical grid-like pattern.
Stella’s work was followed by a series of celebrated pop artists: Roy
Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Apart from
Rauschenberg’s Art Car, all these took part in the Le Mans 24-hour race,
some of them enjoying remarkable success.
The BMW M3 GT2
Derived from the BMW M3 high-performance sports car, the BMW M3 GT2
boasts a 4.0-liter V8 engine with a maximum output of 500 bhp, an
upgraded chassis, racing-caliber brakes, and extensive use of
lightweight materials.  Able to reach 100 mph in 3.4 seconds, the BMW M3
GT2 is rapidly emerging as a real first year contender at this year’s
For the Comeback at 24 Le Mans BMW Motorsport is supported by
numerous successful partners. This is why the BMW M3 GT2 will be labeled
with the logos of Castrol, Crowne Plaza, Dunlop, Randstad, Sympatex,
LuK, H&R, BBS and NGK for the race on the “Circuit de la Sarthe”.
BMW Art Cars
Since 1975, artists from throughout the world have turned BMW
automobiles into art signifying a particular period through the Art Car
program. In 2007, the latest installment was revealed with Olafur
Eliasson’s “Your mobile expectations: BMW H2Rproject”. Many
of the cars by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Rauschenberg,
Hockney and Holzer have been exhibited in renowned museums throughout
the world including the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museums, and the Shanghai
Art Museum. They have been displayed at the BMW Museum in Munich,
between 2006 and 2010 and many went on a world tour throughout Asia,
Russia, Africa, India, the United States and Mexico. The Koons car
number, “79”, pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car. The Warhol car
was assigned the number “76”, an homage to the 1976 Frank Stella car,
both of which raced at Le Mans.
The home of all BMW Art Cars is the BMW Museum in Munich. Starting in
September, Koons’ 17th BMW Art Car will be presented there
together with some of its predecessors.
With over 100 major projects worldwide, BMW Group cultural programs
have been an integral part of the company’s contributions to society for
almost 40 years.  Besides contemporary art, architecture and design,
classical music and jazz are key components of this engagement.
TV Footage will be available from June 2, 2010 onwards at:
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Source: BMW