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Driving at the Speed of Art

July 29, 2011

BMW is one of the most recognized automotive brands available today, incorporating both cutting edge technology and superb design elements into their cars year after year. One unique facet of the brand is their series of art cars, which combines pop art and the automobile, fusing both into a product that is more than a display piece. Make no mistake, these babies are meant to be driven, and in some instances, raced professionally in the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans. Beginning with the first commission in 1975 by Alexander Calder, the art car series has expanded to 17 models, showcasing the talents of David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol. Works by Hockney, Lichtenstein, and Stella are in the collection here at the Phillips, and Stella’s latest series is the subject of our current exhibition.

Stella was commissioned by BMW in 1979 to produce an art car based on his Polar Coordinates series of paintings and prints, however he did another art car for a private client in 1979 using the same theme. The grid pattern is said to represent latitude and longitude, with areas of blue, rose, gray, and purple accenting parts of the car.

In the video , you’ll catch a quick glimpse of Stella’s K.43 (lattice variation) protogen RPT sculpture at 29 seconds. You can see the work in its entirety on display in our 3rd floor gallery through September 4 as part of the Stella Sounds:  The Scarlatti K Series exhibition.

Interestingly enough, the Stella BMW M1 art car is slated to go on the auction block at Bonhams this August.

-Sandy Lee, IT Support Specialist

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