The 8 x Jeff Koons: Pop! Pow! Wow!

Jeff Koons is famous for more than his brightly colored balloon sculptures. He is also one of the few artists BMW invited to turn one of their cars into art. And now there's a new project. However, this is not a one-off Art Car, but a Special Edition of 99 vehicles. For the reveal of The 8 x Jeff Koons, we sat down with the 67-year-old.
Text Wiebke Brauer & Helmut Werb
Photo BMW

Mister Koons, how did the renewed collaboration come about?
Perhaps I'll start with the fact that Thomas Girst, the head of BMW Group cultural engagement, wrote me a letter in 2010 asking if I would design a BMW Art Car. That in itself was fantastic, but the whole story ultimately ended with my Art Car Project, a BMW M3 GT2, competing at Le Mans. Of course, all of us were very, very proud of that car. At that time, I met Adrian van Hooydonk and his team, and found it great to meet the designers and constructors who took care of every detail on the cars. Because I wanted the whole project to be as unique as possible, I had prepared a Plan A and a Plan B at that time. Plan A was a race car that, when it drove by making the »Pow, pow, pow!« sound, would release energetic explosions on the surface of the car, which would then change its appearance. Everyone liked that, however, the car would have ended up being too heavy, and because it was also supposed to win the race, we decided to go with my Plan B, a vehicle with visual energy lines. Afterwards, I said: If there's ever another opportunity for collaboration: Just give me a call.

Which is what ultimately happened.
That's right, the question came up if I would be interested in creating a Special Edition. I replied that it was a dream come true, because I love to create extraordinary things that have a worldwide impact. The first idea was a V12, a really big engine, or a seven. In the end, we decided on the M850i xDrive Gran Coupé because the 850i is the car that is most widespread globally. Plus, I really love fast cars. I was desperate to create a vehicle that had a lot of power and a sporty character. And which is also very democratic, because it should not only provide an adrenaline rush for the driver, but also for everyone else who sits in the car with them. So there's no hierarchy, it doesn't matter where you sit.

How did you translate this energy, the performance, artistically?
The »swoosh« on the side is a sign of the shared power in the car, it's the energy that propels the car forward and that is given back at the same time. That's a key element for me.

What makes the collaboration with BMW so special?
I'm sure you know that I'm considered a perfectionist and pay extreme attention to detail. However, it's true that I don't believe in perfectionism, but I do find little things very important - it's like a dog chasing its own tail. BMW works in a similar way to me, they love to build perfect cars and they pay extreme attention to detail. At the end of the day, both BMW and I celebrate the art. We celebrate a great automobile, but we also celebrate each other. That's our shared future. Not just for us as individuals or companies, but for all of us. I wanted to capture that essence.

»I was desperate to create a vehicle that had a lot of power and a sporty character. And which is also very democratic, because it should not only provide an adrenaline rush for the driver, but also for everyone else who sits in the car with them.«

Jeff Koons

But how do you bring such an essence to life?
I firmly believe that a result follows when thoughts form around things, when you reflect on something. How you form your ideas, your interests, how you bring them into existence. That's how I go through life, and that's how I see my world. For me, it doesn't make a difference if I create a car or a new world. For me, it means the same thing to have a dialogue between people, to talk about feelings and sensations and life. We all have personal experiences. But more significant than that is the possibility of communicating these experiences to others. So that a permanent memory can be created, which becomes embedded in our genes. Only in this way can we truly enjoy our lives. I hope this vehicle does just that: It should generate feelings, release adrenaline, convey the joy of life. I hope that people on the street will turn their heads after the car and say: »Wow, did you see that?«

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