Dynamics in form

Julie Mehretu designs the next BMW Art Car

New York. At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum yesterday, BMW announced its collaboration with the internationally renowned artist Julie Mehretu as part of the BMW Art Car Collection. The BMW M Hybrid V8 model serves as the canvas for the 20th BMW Art Car. Mehretu was nominated by an international jury of renowned art experts, including museum directors and curators.

On the initiative of French racing driver and art lover Hervé Poulain, BMW launched the »Art Cars« series in 1975. Together with the then BMW Motorsport boss Jochen Neerpasch, Poulain asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint a car. This was the birth of the BMW Art Car Collection. Since then, the most renowned artists of their time have always been won over for this extraordinary art project.

Julie Mehretu


Julie Mehretu designs the 20th BMW Art Car, 2023.


Mobility and art

»Julie Mehretu is the perfect artist for the early 21st century. Merging her work with the shape of a speeding vehicle borders on perfection«, said jury member and Pritzker Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Madeleine Grynsztejn about the choice.

In her large-format works, in which she creates an unconventional link between painting and drawing, Mehretu deals with the symbolism of mobility and dynamics – from early geological history to the social conditions of the present day. »I have loved cars all my life, as toys, as objects, as possibilities«, says the artist.

Julie Mehretu has received numerous awards for her work, including the MacArthur Award and the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award. Her work has been exhibited at LACMA (Los Angeles), the High Museum (Atlanta), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and the Walker Museum of Art (Minneapolis), among others. Julie Mehretu has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Design since 2021. Julie Mehretu is represented worldwide by the Marian Goodman Gallery and also exhibits at White Cube, London, and Carlier Gebauer, Berlin.

Julie Mehretu See Gold, Cry Black, 2019 Ink and Acrylic on Canvas 96 x 120 inches (243.8 x 304.8 cm) Photo Credit: Cathy Carver Private Collection Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery © Julie Mehretu
Credit: Cathy Carver Private Collection Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery © Julie Mehretu


Julie Mehretu
See Gold, Cry Black, 2019
Ink and acrylic on canvas
243.8 x 304.8 cm


Art and motorsport

Julie Mehretu has been dealing with the aspect of speed and questions of scale for years, says Madeleine Grynsztejn, explaining the unanimous choice of an international jury of museum directors and curators. She would therefore have the perfect prerequisites 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. It fits perfectly with the BMW Art Car, as it has a special understanding of space and speed.«

Or as Okwui Enwezor, former director of Haus der Kunst, Munich, put it: »Julie Mehretu’s work encompasses various questions of movement, she brings dynamism into form.«

BMW M Hybrid V8


BMW M Hybrid V8 – serves Julie Mehretu as a »canvas« for the 20th BMW Art Car.

Like her famous predecessors – from Andy Warhol to Jenny Holzer, David Hockney and Jeff Koons – who were able to freely implement their authoritative artistic positions and immortalize their individual handwriting, Mehretu also maintains comprehensive creative freedom in the design of the 20th BMW Art Car – »as long as it makes the car even faster«, as Timo Resch, Vice President Sales and Marketing, explains. BMW M, added with a laugh at yesterday’s announcement at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In keeping with the almost 50-year tradition, this year’s 20th BMW Art Car, designed by Mehretu, will also compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans after its completion in June 2024. »The thrill of speed, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the innovative possibilities of hybrid and fully electric vehicles to open up and explore completely new terrains of mobility and motorsport in the future«, is how Julie Mehretu describes her anticipation of this special aspect of the collaboration.

Julie Mehretu at Daytona
Credit: Julian Kroehl


Julie Mehretu, Rolex 24, DAYTONA, 2023


Multifaceted concept

With their collaboration, Mehretu and BMW are creating a concept that goes beyond a car. Together with Mehret Mandefro – Emmy-nominated producer, author and co-founder of the Realness Institutewhich 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 be presented together with the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town. [Red .]

Julie Mehretu Haka (and Riot), 2019 Ink and Acrylic on Canvas
Credit: Tom Powel Imaging Collection Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Andy Song Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery © Julie Mehretu


Julie Mehretu
Haka (and Riot), 2019
Ink and acrylic on canvas
365.8 x 457.2 cm