the latest BMW art car is alexander calder’s unbuilt artist’s proof

back in 1975, french racing driver hervé poulain came up with the idea of getting a race car designed by an artist. he commissioned american artist alexander calder to imprint his signature style into a BMW 3.0 CSL which he would race in the 1975 24-hours le mans endurance race. this initiated the BMW art cars program, which has seen artists like david hockney, jenny holzer, olafur eliasson and andy warhol transform both racing and production vehicles. 

for the opening of ‘alexander calder: minimal / maximal’ exhibition at the neue nationalgalerie in berlin, BMW is presenting the calder BMW art car (artist’s proof), which realizes calder’s dream of creating his own example of the first BMW art car, operating as the kinetic work of art that he intended.

the latest BMW art car is alexander calder's unbuilt artist's proof
images by BMW

‘it was a thrilling moment as a young driver to meet the great american artist alexander calder at his home in saché,’ hervé poulain recalls. ‘racing what became the first in a storied tradition of prestigious art cars is a memory I will never forget. I am delighted that more people will now get to experience calder’s vision, thanks to this new artist’s proof.’

the latest BMW art car is alexander calder's unbuilt artist's proof
the artist’s proof is not a replica, clone, copy, reproduction, facsimile, or 1:1 of the 1975 calder BMW art car

it is important to note that the artist’s proof is not a replica, clone, copy, reproduction, facsimile, or 1:1 of the 1975 calder BMW art car. instead, it is the identical artist’s proof that calder was entitled to but was never realized until now. meticulously built from an original BMW 3.0 CSL, the artist’s proof will carry the same vehicle identification number, with the suffix AP.

the latest BMW art car is alexander calder's unbuilt artist's proof
the artist’s proof is built from an original BMW 3.0 CSL

alexander S. C. rower, grandson of the artist and president of the calder foundation, recalls, ‘I first encountered the BMW art car as a kid at the opening of my grandfather’s far-ranging retrospective at the whitney museum in 1976. I asked him about the roar of its m49 engine, and he smiled and told me he wanted to make one for himself. he died just a few weeks later. ever since, I have dreamed of realizing his wish to bring the car to life to experience its full glory in motion. I am thrilled that that day has finally come, and that the car will be activated for the opening of the neue nationalgalerie’s ‘minimal / maximal’ exhibition, which highlights the key element of social activation so fundamental to calder’s work.’

the latest BMW art car is alexander calder's unbuilt artist's proof
it will carry the same vehicle identification number, with the suffix AP

after its debut in berlin, the calder BMW art car (artist’s proof) will be presented at the bridge in bridgehampton, new york, on september 18, 2021. the calder foundation will subsequently lend calder’s artist’s proof to exhibitions worldwide.