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BMW will present two classics from its Art Car Collection at the 2014 Art Basel show in Miami: a racing version of the BMW 320i painted by Roy Lichtenstein in 1977 and an M3 painted by Australian artist Michael Jagamara Nelson in 1989.
Both cars raced competitively after being used as canvases. The Lichtenstein 320i finished first in its class at the 24-hour race at Le Mans following its premiere at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
“I wanted the lines I painted to be a depiction of the road showing the car where to go,” Lichtenstein said after completing the car.
BMW’s Art Car Collection, launched in 1975 with a 3.0 CSL painted by Alexander Calder, comprises 17 cars painted by artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Eliasson, David Hockney and Robert Rauschenberg. The most recent, an M3 GT2, was painted by Jeff Koons in 2010.
The program was conceived at a time when corporations were awakening to the marketing possibilities of associating their brands with fine artists. In 1973 Braniff Airlines commissioned Calder to paint two of its aircraft, a DC-8-62 and 727-200, which flew until the airline’s bankruptcy in 1982. In 1986 Andy Warhol painted an interpretation of the Absolut vodka bottle that became the first advertisement in a campaign that ran for 25 years and included the work of Keith Haring and Ed Ruscha.
The Nelson and Lichtenstein cars will be on display at Art Basel through Dec. 7.
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