Art on Wheels: Andy Warhol’s BMW M1

The Andy Warhol BMW is unveiled at Art Toronto
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Andy Warhol hand-painting the BMW M1
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The Any Warhol BMW Art Car racing at the 1979 Le Mans
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The Andy Warhol BMW is unveiled at Art Toronto
The Andy Warhol BMW is unveiled at Art Toronto
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The iconic artist’s painterly BMW Art Car is on display at Art Toronto.

Last night at the gala opening of Art TorontoAndy Warhol‘s handywork, across the body of a 1979 BMW race car, was unveiled to a black-tie crowd. The exhibit marks the second time a BMW Art Car has been shown in Canada – the first was a 1991 BMW 525i painted by African artist Esther Mahlangu.

“I love that car; it has turned out better than the artwork,” Warhol reportedly said of the M1 BMW when he was commissioned to paint it. Warhol’s messy mélange of red, green, blue and yellow brush strokes were intended to express his desire to blur the contours of the roadster, giving it a vivid illustration of speed. A video nearby shows the pop artist actually on top of the car with paintbrush in hand. It took him less than 28 minutes to complete the project from start to finish.

The car famously racked up 3,874 kilometres over 24 hours during the 1979 Le Mans race. It was raced again in the German Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2008, with American painter Frank Stella as co-pilot.

Hervé Poulain, a French auctioneer and passionate race car driver, has been commissioning artists to paint BMWs since 1975. Last year, Jeff Koons painted the 17th Art Car in the collection. Other artists include Roy Lichtenstein, Olafur Eliasson and Jenny Holzer. All the cars are permanently on display at the BMW Museum in Munich.

Andy Warhol’s BMW M1 will be on show at Art Toronto until Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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