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Julie Mehretu's BMW Art Car Debuts at Le Mans 2024

Published May 21, 2024 at 3:53 PM
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Paris, France — This year's 24 Hours of Le Mans will see an exceptional entry on its historic circuit—a racing car transformed into a mobile artwork by renowned artist Julie Mehretu.

Commissioned in 2018, Mehretu's design for the 20th BMW Art Car has finally been unveiled, marking a significant milestone in both the automotive and art worlds.

Mehretu, known for her dynamic and layered abstract paintings, has applied her unique vision to the BMW M Hybrid V-8 racer. Her approach combines elements of painting, drawing, and printmaking to create a visual dialogue between the artwork and the car's form. The result is not merely a car with a painted exterior but a three-dimensional representation of her acclaimed "Everywhen" piece from 2021-2023.

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"In the studio, where I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V-8, I was sitting in front of the painting and wondered what it would look like if the car passed through the canvas," Mehretu explained. "This led to a sort of remix, a mash-up where the painting seems to drip onto the car. It's as if the car inhaled the artwork through its very structure."

The fusion of Mehretu's artistic expression with BMW's engineering excellence not only continues the tradition of the BMW Art Cars but pushes it into a new dimension. The project first started in 1975 with Alexander Calder's design and has since included works by iconic artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jeff Koons.

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This year, the car will be piloted by drivers Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns, and René Rast, proudly bearing the number 20. Their race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans will not just be a test of speed and endurance but also a showcase of moving art.

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Beyond the racetrack, Mehretu's collaboration with BMW extends to nurturing creative talent across Africa. In 2025, she will partner with producer Mehret Mandefro for a series of Pan-African media workshops designed to stimulate artistic collaboration and innovation. These workshops will take place in cities like Dakar, Marrakech, Kigali, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, and Zanzibar, providing platforms for artists to forge new paths toward just and vibrant civic futures in their communities.

As the BMW Art Car prepares to make its mark at Le Mans, it carries not just the speed of its engines but the aspirations and visions of a connected and creatively enriched world.

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Credit: Yanko Design
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Julie Mehretu's BMW Art Car Debuts at Le Mans 2024

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