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This is BMW’s New Art Car or Something

Greg Kachadurian December 1, 2016 All Things Hoon, Cars You Should Know 32 Comments

John Balessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

For about 40 years now, BMW has occasionally invited some of the world’s most talented and respected artists to apply their unique style to one of their newest cars. The tradition started in 1975 with a gorgeous BMW 3.0 CSL and a livery that was hand-painted by Alexander Calder. Since then, seventeen other Art Cars have followed. Some were street cars that were only ever on display at museums and others were race cars that saw real competition, but each one was unique and beautiful in its own way.

BMW just revealed the 19th Art Car, a 2017-spec M6 GTLM destined for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona with a livery created by John Baldessari, an American conceptual artist with an . With the exception of the , this is without a doubt the strangest Art Car yet. There’s lots of debate on whether this is a worthy art car and, to quote Turner Motorsport’s Will Turner, whether this is for driving or playing Twister on. The general consensus seems to be very negative towards this car with plenty saying it isn’t art, just a few shapes on an otherwise empty canvas. I’ll explain why the internet got it wrong.

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

At first glance, it does appear to have very little effort put into it. It’s by far the most white space I’ve ever seen on an Art Car. Start with a white M6 GTLM, a gorgeous canvas that’s already worn some spectacular liveries. Now add a big red dot to the roof. Then add a red and green dot over the fog light covers. Now add a yellow shape to the hood, paint the spoiler blue and yellow, and add a picture of the M6 GTLM on the right door. Oh, then write “FAST” on the driver’s door. There’s your Art Car.

I’m tempted to call it lame. In fact that was my first reaction. The #100 BMW M6 GTLM that raced here in the states had a spectacular livery that I love way more than this. In the daylight it looked like a plain white BMW, but at night an intricate, reflective lattice design revealed itself and made it shine like a jewel under the lights. That could have been an Art Car easily, especially compared to what’s essentially a white car with a few circles and the word FAST written on it.

John Baldessari BMW M6 GTLM Art Car #19.

But art is meant to be thought provoking and open for interpretation, which this definitely is. Browse through Baldessari’s work and you can clearly see where some of the elements came from. They’re interesting in a two-dimensional art piece, but at first glance just appear uninspiring on a race car, which is why a lot of people aren’t loving it, including me.

As I stare at this car at 4am, I still don’t understand it and I’m not prepared to tell you what it means either. What I can tell you though is that there’s more to this car that we’re not realizing. We’re not supposed to “get it”. Hell, I wonder if Baldessari even gets it. It’s not supposed to be normal. It’s not supposed to blend in with other race cars but it’s also not supposed to be as eye-catching as the Jeff Koons M3 GT2 Art Car. It’s supposed to be a conceptual artist’s simple yet complex vision in motion, whatever that may be. By that definition, this is art. I don’t love it and I don’t think I ever will, but this is worthy of being an Art Car.

Obviously this car has gotten the internet talking, so what say you? Agree? Disagree? Worried for my mental health? I am.

[Source: BMW]

  • engineerd

    Like most things, we need bad art to be able to know what good art is. Also, like most things, art is very subjective. One person may see an absolute masterpiece while the rest of us are baffled and question its very existence.

  • Alff

    I get it. He’s lazy.

    • Batshitbox

      Sweatpants.

      • Alff

        Exactly. And beard.

        • dukeisduke

          And Netflix.

          • dukeisduke

            And ice cream.

    • 0A5599

      Warhol finished the M1 in 23 minutes.

      It still looks better than this new one.

      • Rover 1

        Should brush marks be visible? Is that finish good enough?
        Are just some of the questions raised.

        • outback_ute

          I imagine the race team wasn’t thrilled with the extra drag! Otherwise, yes.

          • crank_case

            Rough surfaces and aeros actually a pretty interesting one, it’s open to debate whether a smooth surface is lower drag than a textured/dimpled one. In water it seems to be the case (e.g. sharkskin), but it’s not fully understood in air. Maybe Warhol was a secret aero nerd testing out the theory..

            • Mythbusters dimpled a taurus like a golf ball and IIRC it reduced its drag

            • outback_ute

              True, I can’t rule out the possibility!

  • Alcology

    The question skips over is it art or not and becomes do you care or not? I’m happy to think of other things. Like how many Gs will it pull as I oh so violently swing it too wide in my ignorance of how to drive a beast like that on a track. And will I have enough time to ponder that question before I am wiped to nothing with a giant grin on my stupid face?

  • Batshitbox

    First, props for getting Port and Starboard the right way ’round.
    Second, this is an Art Car, with capital letters, whereas a livery is an exercise in graphic design. What we have is a clash between automobile enthusiasts whose expertise in high art may not be their strong suit, and art world aesthetes whose familiarity with car culture may be likewise not their strong suit.

    • Port and starboard are reversed, no matter what kind of prop is involved.

      • Greg Kachadurian

        This is true. I think he just likes putting circles over everything.

        • Even so, it’s just not that difficult to put green on the right front and red on the left. Alignment, admittedly, can be trickier.

      • Batshitbox

        D’oh! Lack of coffee! I get a Mulligan?

        It’s drilled into my head that Red, Left, and Port all have fewer letters (in English) than Green, Right, and Starboard. I have no idea where that knowledge was when I posted. I was even reading a book on wooden boat building this morning.

  • smokyburnout

    • el an

      Very quick, but the R is too big. Sorry

      • Alff

        Art is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

    • crank_case

      Ausfahrt still makes me snigger every time I’m on an autobahn

  • Grant Linderman

    I’m not sure I agree with the assertion that this is ‘definitely’ thought-provoking. I’m leaning more towards this provoking zero thought. It is incredibly plain and boring, and all the empty space just makes it look incomplete/unfinished.

    • Greg Kachadurian

      How about thought-provoking as in “what the hell was he trying to accomplish?” or “how much did BMW actually pay him?” I mean you can go to a modern art museum and see people staring at a piece of string on a wall to try and find a deeper meaning to it. I hear you in that it looks unfinished (and as I said, I don’t like it), but it does still make me wonder regardless. Hopefully what I just said makes sense.

      • outback_ute

        Or did BMW seek more than one proposal for their new art car? Maybe they are fans of his, given this example I have no interest in taking time to investigate his work any further, life is too short.

      • Grant Linderman

        Totally makes sense. However… when art is said to be ‘thought-provoking’, I think it’s generally meant that the art makes you think about other things – not just ‘hey this painting sucks’ or ‘people pay for this??’. What John Baldessari has done to that race car seems (to me) to be utterly devoid of any possibility of a deeper meaning. So without a deeper meaning, and without being aesthetically pleasing… I’m not sure it can be called art with a straight face. Granted… I’m no artist, so I’m not exactly an expert on the subject.

  • Rover 1

    I quite like it but the #100 BMW M6 GTLM is more spectacular.

    There have been ‘better’ cars in the past – and worse ones.

    Graphics is art as well.




  • Inliner

    It’s art alright, I guess it’s just not spectacular art.

  • In this case, the beauty and the art is actually in what you can’t see.

    Under that white paint is a hidden masterpiece.

    Or something.

    • During a race, the more artistic drivers will get rid of everything that isn’t the sculpture inside the white block.

      • Then you get Art Squared.

        Is there a third, deeper level?

  • dukeisduke

    What’s artsy about that?

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