Warhol’s Pop Top Hits the Road

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Published February 12, 2009

While Andy Warhol might be more famous for painting car crashes with his “Death and Disaster” series, he also, on occasion, fancied a car intact. When French racecar driver Hervé Poulain decided his beloved BMWs might make excellent canvases, he first asked mobile-maker (coincidence?) Alexander Calder. In 1979, Warhol added his own designs to the series; he liked the project so much he both designed and painted the BMW M1 racecar himself. He said, “I love that car. It has turned out better than the artwork… I have tried to give a vivid depiction of speed. If a car is really fast, all contours and colors will become blurred.”

The car was only driven once in 1979 at the 24-Hour Race at Le Mans. It came in sixth. There are currently 16 Art Cars, which have been touring around the world, making pit stops in Korea, India, and Russia, and the first US presentation is at LACMA tonight. Other artists include Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, and Olafur Eliasson. Keep posted, as a panel of international judges decides on the 17th edition. Maybe John Chamberlain has earned his go.

 
The BMW Art Car Project is on display at LACMA in Los Angeles through February 24. It will then travel to The Grand Central Terminal in New York, where it will be on display from March 25 to April 17.