In a ceremony at the famed Pompidou Center in Paris, American artist Jeff Koons extended a BMW tradition that now spans 35 years by unveiling his take on the latest in a long line of Art Cars. Next stop for Koons' multi-hued racing-spec M3 will be Le Mans, where it will contest for GT2 category honors in the 24-hour endurance classic in the hands of drivers by Andy Priaulx, Dirk Müller and Dirk Werner.
BMW initiated its Art Car program in 1975, when Alexander Calder created a special design motif for an M3 that also competed at the famed French event. Koons' effort is the seventeenth Art Car commissioned by the automaker. He joins such other notable creative types as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Klaus Rauschenberg, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer and the most recent Art Car, BMW's experimental hydrogen-powered H2R concept vehicle, done by Olafur Eliasson in 2007.
Koons interest in creating an Art Car for BMW began in 2003. Since early February, he'd worked with BMW design and engineering teams to explore various materials and application options that would optimize both the aesthetic and aerodynamic attributes of the race car. That effort, which included 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models, led the group to render the final graphics by using digital print-on car-wrapping vinyl covered by a double layer of clear-coating. To add more authenticity, Koons even simulated "racing rash" by incorporating "virtual debris" details along the sides and rear of the car.
Following its outing at Le Mans and several other exhibition dates during the summer, the Koons M3 GT2 -- which carries its creator's signature on its rear bumper -- will head to the BMW Museum in September to join its colorful Art Car kin as part of a permanent exhibit.