Creativity on cars

Brightly coloured BMWs are not an act of vandalism but rather a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the Art Car project.

An exhibition at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany honours the 35th anniversary of the car manufacturer’s Art Cars project.

Running until 30 September 2011, the exhibition features the complete set of 17 Art Cars for the first time ever. Olafur Eliasson’s Art Car ice sculpture is the only one not featured in the exhibition, for obvious reasons.

The project features some particularly well-known creatives including David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and pop art legend Andy Warhol. The story goes that it took Warhol only 23 minute to paint the 1979 M1 because, he said, the design of the car was so great. He added that he "tried to portray a sense of speed. When a car is going really fast all the lines and colours become a blur".

South Africa’s Esther Mahlangu was the first woman to design an Art Car. Mahlangu’s design features ethnic Ndebele art, creating an interesting contrast with the high-end, top-speed machine. Her designs also meant that tribal art was introduced to a wide audience. Mahlangu’s Art Car currently also features in the Global Africa Project at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

Viewing these creations in one place gives the viewer a clearer idea of the possibilities of the car as canvas. And makes one wonder why cars adorned with bright and bold splashes of colour are not more popular. It is interesting to note that most artists took a similar approach with the use of bright colours while there are also those designs that completely detracted from convention.

As a brand initiative the Art Cars project is also very telling of the company’s interest in pairing sport and culture through design.