By dynamics through form

World premiere of the 20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu

Paris. At the Pompidou Center in Paris The 20th BMW Art Car, designed by New York painter Julie Mehretu, has just been presented to the public for the first time and continues a long racing tradition of the BMW Art Car Collection. The BMW M Hybrid V8 endurance prototype will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans just a few weeks after its world premiere.

Space, movement and energy have always been central motifs in Julie Mehretu’s work. For the design of the 20th BMW Art Car, she transformed a two-dimensional motif into a three-dimensional representation for the first time, with which she succeeded in bringing dynamism into form. »Julie Mehretu is the perfect artist for the early 21st century. Merging her work with the shape of a speeding vehicle borders on perfection,« says Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Madeleine Grynsztejn. According to her, the perfect prerequisite for creating a »rolling sculpture« that can be grasped from a distance, »because you have to look at many of her large commissioned works from a distance to really understand them.« Her special understanding of space and speed is brought to life by the former director of the House of Art in Munich, Okwui Enwezor, summed it up as follows: »Julie Mehretu’s work encompasses various questions of movement, she brings dynamism into form.«

Julie Mehretu used the color and form vocabulary of her monumental painting »Everywhen« (2021 – 2023), which is currently being presented as part of a major retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and will subsequently become part of the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), as a basis.

»I saw the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8 in front of the finished painting in my studio and wondered what would happen if«, says Julie Mehretu. »Now the BMW Art Car is a remix of my painting, and it looks as if its radiator grille kidney grille has breathed in the painting.« Here, the artist evokes the abstract visual form of the vehicle, which is the result of digitally altered photographs overlaid with several layers of dot grids, neon-colored veils and the black markings characteristic of her work.

The fusion of image and vehicle was realized with the help of 3D mapping, with which the motif was transferred to the contours of the vehicle, and elaborate foiling, which makes it possible to use the fully designed BMW M Hybrid V8 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. »I saw the car at Daytona and the experience was overwhelming. Designers, engineers, aerodynamicists and so many other creative minds are working on taking this vehicle to its limit. So many dreams come true when it’s time to hit the racetrack,« says Mehretu.

With their collaboration, Julie Mehretu and BMW have created a concept that goes beyond the design of the 20th BMW Art Car. Together with Mehret Mandefro—Emmy-nominated producer, author and co-founder of the Realness Institute which is committed to strengthening the media ecosystem in Africa—the artist with Ethiopian roots will organize workshops in eight African cities over the course of nine months, creating a forum for artists to meet, exchange and collaborate on a translocal level. The results of the workshops will then be presented together with the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. [Red.]