by Sukanya DebJul 04, 2022
It is hard to think of another artist who would supplant the iconic Jeff Koons to design the BMW in 2022. Nineteen artists from all over the world have concocted BMW automobiles of their time. Roy Lichtenstein, Esther Mahlangu, Jenny Holzer, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Ólafur Elíasson, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Cao Fei and John Baldessari are the iconic artists among others who left their mark with the automobile brand. Jeff Koons designed the 17th BMW Art Car in 2010, the BMW M3 GT2, which also competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. On the occasion of 50 years of BMW Group Cultural Engagement last year, the Art Cars entered the digital realm and have been presented in augmented reality since then.
Koons states, “My edition of the BMW 8 Series is my dream car! It is very special to me, and I have wanted to create a special edition BMW for a long time. It is sporty and flashy as well as minimalist and conceptual. I cannot wait to drive it and ride in it, and I hope that people will enjoy the Gran Coupé just as much as I do. On the car, the lines are getting bigger on their journey from the hood towards the trunk, creating a sense of forwarding movement just as the ‘POP!’ and the vapor thrust design elements do. The blue colour resembles the vastness of space and I like the idea of the car being a global car. What matters is how we relate to each other and our awareness of everything we are surrounded by. For the driver and all passengers, there is a heightened state of pleasure. This is what my car has to offer.”
Chief among its visual attractions, the precisely limited edition of the M850ixDrive Gran Coupé consumed over 200 hours of manual work time just for the exterior paint job and colour samples were often applied with magnifying glasses. The automobile one-ups itself by featuring a meticulous and striking design fused with bold colours on the exterior. Meanwhile, the multicoloured interior consists of fine leather and a cup holder lid with an edition badging and the artist’s signature. According to the artist, the "POP!" on each side as well as the vapor thrust imagery symbolise the power and speed of THE 8 X JEFF KOONS. The international media is describing the car as "energetic”, “tantalising”, and "strong".
The contemporary artist, eminent for the immersive and large-scale installation art such as the balloon dog sculptural art, spent the initial days discussing design options with the BMW employees. Several things, such as the essence of the 8 Series Gran Coupe, its power and creating something that exemplifies all the energy of the BMW 8 Series that can touch upon the human element, were taken into account before beginning the work. The artist and the brand made sure to add a tint of personal touch. Each vehicle comes with a large-format certificate signed by Koons, the driver’s manual, also designed by the artist, and to top it all off, one signature of the artist into the cupholder panel. Koons deliberately chose the Bavarian blue from the BMW logo.
The American artist already created a unique BMW M3 GT2 Art Car in 2010 which performed at the 24 Hours of Le Man's race and was unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Since then BMW and Koons continued the conversation and in early 2020 decided on a limited edition of the new BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé, which had its world premiere in January 2022.
Further plans for THE 8 X JEFF KOONS include its display in Manhattan's Rockefeller Plaza before one vehicle from the edition, signed on the tailgate by Jeff Koons, will be auctioned off at Christie's in New York on April 4. All proceeds from the highest bid will go to the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). Koons has been personally involved with this nonprofit NGO for over two decades. Following its world premiere, THE 8 X JEFF KOONS will be presented at multiple art fairs and events in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including the 16th Istanbul Contemporary, Paris Photo, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Art Dubai, West Bund Art & Design Fair Shanghai and Art Basel Hong Kong.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Assistant Editorial Coordinator (Arts))