Monday, March 26, 2007

Art on wheels

You've only got five days to race over to the Ayala Museum to catch the awesome BMW Art Cars exhibit, which closes on Saturday, March 31. I know zilch about cars, and not much of contemporary visual arts either, but the arresting beauty of the automobiles on display, decorated by some of the world's most highly-regarded artists, spoke to me clearly enough.

The four life-size BMWs on display feature designs by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and Ken Done. The 11 other race cars in the prized collection are represented in miniature replicas encased in glass that bear the artists' original designs--artists such as Ernst Fuchs, Matazo Kayama, Cesar Manrique, Esther Mahlangu, David Hockney, Alexander Calder, and others. These miniatures line one part of the exhibit area on the museum's ground floor, right by the main door.

Hurry before this one-of-a-kind exhibit packs up. Admission is free, and you can also take photos!

Here are pics of the four full-scale art cars, with excerpts from the accompanying brochure:

KEN DONE, 1989: "Done had definite ideas from the very first moment as to how to decorate the car. On the one hand it was to express something of the fascination which the swift, high-performance M3 held for him, and on the other it had to be typically Australian. The vitality and optimism of his home continent were to be as much in evidence as things which he particularly appreciates about Australia. He therefore decided to paint parrots and parrot fish, as he saw a strong affinity between them and the BMW M3."

"While working on his draft version, Stella dissociated himself from his usual random style of painting and sought inspiration from the car's technical aura. The result: a black and white square grid with an evenness and precision reminiscent of oversized graph paper. Within this grid, pattern-like, dotted lines run across the bodywork, suggesting that Stella may have wished to cut out the car and reassemble it in a new shape."

"Taking a closer look at the car's design casts a picture of passing scenery in which both the car [a BMW 320i] and its movement are one single entity. And although Lichtenstein's comic art was already a thing of the past by then, his Art Car is clearly influenced by it: the long drawn colored strips act as 'speedlines'--a feature used in comics to suggest speed. Even the oversized dots used by Lichtenstein, the 'Benday dots,' are reminiscent of his famous comic-strip pictures."

"All the other artists who had previously decorated BMW racing cars had done so by painting a draft version on a scaled-down model; this was then transposed to the actual car by assistants under the artist's supervision. Warhol, however, was the first, to paint everything by himself. By transferring his ideas to the car in this spontaneous and direct manner, he could clearly stamp his own character on it. Warhol explained the sweeping strokes he chose as follows: 'I tried to portray speed pictorially. If a car is moving really quickly, all the lines and colors are blurred.'"

PLUS: Four miniatures that had me drooling: (Click on the picture to enlarge and read the name of the artist)


watson said...

Ooooh I'll tell my friend who's into cars!

Aileen Apolo said...


Rick M. said...

OMG! I've been waiting for this. thanks so much for the info!

I'll try to check in out on Friday.

vincedejesus said...


I have a 1984 BMW-318i and I just restored it. Black and shiny. How I weeeeeeesh I can do this to my car. Kaya lang masayado yatang makulay.Mahirap maghanap ng katerno na damit. Pero ang ganda!!! I'm sure magastos yan.

He he he. said...

Did you submit your site at can be accessed by simply typing in your browser window or by clicking here.

Rianne said...

wow! astig yung mga yan! ang ganda! :D hehe! nice post ;-)

Jaypee said...

Those artworks are awesome! I wish I could go and see them in person. I like the 4 miniature cars, but I like the third one's design the most. :D

Thanks for sharing! Great shots! :)

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