Huffpost UK Culture uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Andrew Gonsalves Headshot

Auto Art

Posted: Updated:

BMW's Art Cars programme has been running for almost 40 years now. Every now and then the Bavarian manufacturer hands a pristine, straight-off-the-production-line, car to an artist of note and tells them to use it as their canvas.

The ICA has brought together all 18 of these automotive installations and installed them in a car park in Shoreditch as a part of the London 2012 celebrations, BMW being the manufacturer given 'official' status - it'll be their cars ferrying the Olympic VIPs around town when we're stuck in traffic in the non-games lanes.

The creators are a veritable who's who of twentieth century artists, from the living (David Hockney and Jeff Koons) to the departed (Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder), with a plethora of lesser-known (but no less talented) canvass-botherers in between.

Warhol's M1 2012-07-24-Warhol.jpg

The cars are as varied as the artists who've painted them, from stripped-out track cars to family saloons. Strangely, it's the less exotic models which excite the most. With the more glamorous cars in the collection there's a sense that they're already such a work of art in themselves that the addition of a layer or two of paint is just dressing on a very tasty cake.

Manrique's 7 Series 2012-07-24-Manrique.jpg

The more pedestrian models are less imposing to being with, which makes the artistic additions much more exciting, and much more obvious. My personal favourite was the 1986 BMW 635CSi by Robert Rauschenberg, and honourable mention goes to C├ęsar Manrique's 1990 730i and Esther Mahlangu's 1991 525i - proofs, all of them, that where art's concerned, the price of the canvas is irrelevant, it's what you do with it that counts.

Mahlangu's creation 2012-07-24-Mahlangu.jpg

Take yourself off to the Art Drive and judge for yourself. It's on until 4th August, and it's free. http://www.ica.org.uk/33869/Exhibitions/ART-DRIVE-BMW-ART-CAR-COLLECTION-19752010.html