Team BMW Motorsport will compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a work of art on four wheels: the no. 79 BMW M3 GT2 has been designed as a “rolling sculpture” by Jeff Koons. The American artist – one of the best-known and renowned artists of his time – presented his first preliminary design concept at a press conference in New York on Tuesday, which was attended by prominent guests including BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, and BMW works driver Andy Priaulx (GB).
The 17th BMW Art Car sees BMW continue a long tradition, which dates back to 1975 and celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Auctioneer and racing driver Hervé Poulain (FR) came up with the idea of allowing famous artists to design BMW racing cars. Alexander Calder (US) got the ball rolling with the BMW 3.0 CSL. By 1979 Frank Stella (US), Roy Lichtenstein (US) and Andy Warhol (US) had all followed in his footsteps. All these cars lined up at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The greatest sporting success came with the BMW M1 designed by Warhol, which crossed the finish line in sixth. Koons is the latest artist to join the illustrious group of BMW Art Car creators.
Frank-Peter Arndt, who as a member of the Board of Management at BMW is also responsible for the BMW Group’s cultural commitments, said: “It is a fascinating and inspiring exercise to witness an artist present his or her vision through one of our cars. To see Jeff Koons take his unique sensibility and bring it to a BMW racing car as he works with our team to translate his art into a race-ready car is to truly watch a challenging connection be made between technical and artistic intelligence.”
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen added: “The race in Le Mans is one of the most important events in international motorsport. This makes it the perfect stage to revive the tradition of the BMW Art Car. Jeff Koons’ work of art will leave a lasting impression with all those who see it, even long after the BMW M3 GT2’s race appearance. BMW Art Cars have often also been able to impress with their sporting achievements. I am optimistic that this will be the case again this year.”
“These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” said Jeff 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.”
The BMW M3 GT2 Art Car will make its world debut at Paris’s “Centre Pompidou” on 1st June 2010 – just two weeks before the race on 12th and 13th June. Koons himself will unveil and sign his car, just as Roy Lichtenstein did with the BMW 320i Group 5 Racing Version in 1977. The number to be carried by the BMW M3 GT2 at this year’s race in Le Mans, “79”, pays tribute to the 1979 Andy Warhol car.
Priaulx, one of the three drivers of the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car, said “For us drivers it’s a huge honour to drive the latest Art Car at Le Mans. I find our BMW racing cars aesthetically pleasing anyway. But the result of Jeff Koons’ work on the BMW M3 GT2 Art Car is just incredible. We will do our best to make it a successful return of the Art Cars to Le Mans from a sporting angle as well.”
Team BMW Motorsport will enter two BMW M3 GT2 cars at the 24-hour race at the “Circuit de la Sarthe”. Priaulx will be joined at the wheel of the Art Car by Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE), while Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Uwe Alzen (DE) will alternate behind the wheel of the second BMW M3 GT2.