All good things come in 3(D): BMW Art Cars go virtual

What happens when you combine cars, art and the digital world? BMW demonstrates this with its virtual Art Cars: it's going to be pretty nice. The best part: Little by little, fans of the racy works of art can marvel at more and more models.
Text Marko Knab
Photo BMW Group

Motorsports and cars are cultural assets. And in their own right, they are also an art that must first be mastered. Real experts in this field can be found in Munich - at BMW, to be precise. They are now taking their legacy of legendary art cars to a new level with the Acute Art app. With the help of virtual reality (VR), the speeding works of art are now available to everyone. The reason for opening up the somewhat different car archive is the 50th anniversary of BMW's commitment to culture. Anniversary of the cultural commitment of the BMW Group.

Thanks to the VR technology, the Art Cars appear in unexpected, inappropriate simply quite unusual places. Which in turn is sort of a recombination and thus art. To kick off the ever-growing 3D art show, we've picked out our three favorites from the BMW and Acute Art offerings - a bonus from a good friend included.

BMW 3.0 CSL by Alexander Calder (1975)

A true pioneering work: Initiated by French racing driver and art lover Hervé Poulain and thanks to BMW Motorsport Director Jochen Neerpasch at the time, the first ever Art Car is created. In 1975, the technologically minded artist Alexander Calder took on the top model BMW 3.0 CSL. Bold colors therefore run in curved shapes over the hood and wings of the racing car, also known as the »Batmobile« which competes at Le Mans - and lays the foundation for all other Art Cars.

Credit: BMW Art Car by Alexander Calder, BMW 3.0 CSL, 1975, augmented reality. Courtesy of the artist and Acute Art in collaboration with BMW Group Culture. © 2021 Calder Foundation, New York / DACS, London.

BMW M3 GT2 by Jeff Koons (2010)

Koons can do - even on cars. In 2010, instead of balloon sculptures, the celebrated artist designed a brightly colored BMW M3 GT2, which was unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Like the first Art Car, the M3 GT2 then competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and suffers the same fate as the pioneer: it quickly becomes the fans' favorite, but retires similarly fast. Like the 3.0 CSL, it also suffered from technical problems. But the bold colors, which convey high speed and lots of energy even when stationary, still shine today.

Credit: BMW Art Car by Jeff Koons, BMW M3 GT2, 2010, augmented reality. Courtesy of the artist and Acute Art in collaboration with BMW Group Culture.

BMW 525i by Esther Mahlangu

Sure, every Art Car is special - but Esther Mahlangu's BMW 525i is even more special among the other driving works of art. Created in 1991, it is the first Art Car designed by a female artist. And unlike many of its predecessors, the sedan never sees the asphalt of a race track. Instead, as a work of art made of geometric patterns and vivid colors, the car stands for itself - and, of course, for the so-called »Ndebele art,« the art of Esther Mahlangu's people from South Africa.

Credit: BMW Art Car by Esther Mahlangu, BMW 525i, 1991, augmented reality. Courtesy of the artist and Acute Art in collaboration with BMW Group Culture.

BMW E3 New Horizon by Christian Zschocke and Heiner Meier

The impact and fascination of the Art Cars continues to this day: In addition to the two official M6 GTLM that were created at BMW in the late 2010s, a real wonder car recently entered the stage. We are talking about Christian Zschocke's BMW E3 »New Horizon«. Although it was never raced or commissioned by the brand like the other BMW Art Cars, it was designed by pop artist Heiner Meyer. Oh yeah - the »wonder car« paint job was done by Walter Maurer, an art car professional himself. The mission of this special E3? To bring fresh curiosity, openness and a desire for the future into a game that is once again in a good mood, as a stimulating impulse. And all that without being present in the newly presented app.

Credit: Matthias Mederer ·

The Acute Art app uses cutting-edge technology that works best on high-end phones with the latest software. Supported devices include iPhone X or newer and Samsung Galaxy S8 or equivalent models. The app requires a phone with at least 4GB of RAM and the Apple iOS 11 or Android 8.0 Oreo (API 24) operating system. In the app, you simply select the »BMW Art Cars« option.

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