Inspiration: BMW ART CARS


I’ve always loved the proportions of the classic ‘e30’ BMW 320i.

It was actually very similar to the 1991 Sentra SE-R that I had when I was 17 years old.

Anyways, I was googling around, and found these BMW art cars.

To me, this concept was fascinating. You can take an ordinary object (like a man-made car) and turn it into an art object. You can use the car as a canvas to create art.

Pop art

This made me think of Andy Warhol — one of my art heroes. He democratized art. A soup can could be a piece of art. He was not pretentious. I still remember my Sociology of Art class at UCLA, where my teacher taught me:

The revolution of Andy Warhol was that anybody in America could drink a Coca-Cola, regardless of how rich or poor. If you’re a millionaire, you drink the same Coke as a working-laborer. Therefore, Coca-Cola is the ultimate democratic drink.

Paint your own car

Roy Lichtenstein // Brush Strokes
Roy Lichtenstein // Brush Strokes

When I had my 1991 Sentra SE-R, I painted the car myself. I literally used white paint, to paint the bumpers (which were scratched). I spray-painted my interior, my rims, and nowadays they have ‘Plasti-Dip’ which makes this easy.

You can ‘murder out’ (make all black) your own car. You can paint the rims black, and the mirrors.

You can make your own camera matted out black — take it apart, and spray paint it.

To me, the inspiration is that you can take control. You can paint whatever you want– however you want.

You can even paint your own laptop.

Art x Industry

Roy Lichtenstein at work on his BMW ART CAR
Roy Lichtenstein at work on his BMW ART CAR

I like the idea that ART can mix with industry. Art isn’t just some pretentiousness. Everyone is born an Artist (like Picasso said) — the trouble is how do we stay an artist as we get older?

So in terms of creativity, just think of ways you can mix art, your photography, and the material world.

So let us examine some of the badass BMW art cars:

1. Roy Lichtenstein x 1977 BMW 320i

Roy Lichtenstein bmw art car6

“I’m never drawing the object itself; I’m only drawing a depiction of the object – a kind of crystallized symbol of it.” – Roy Lichtenstein

Born in New York in 1923, father of American pop art. Cubism x Expressionism was his art, and dealt with ‘trivial culture’ like comics and advertisements — into social critique. He died in 1997.

Roy Lichtenstein art4

To me, I love Roy Lichtenstein because he used pop culture, to criticize pop culture. On the outside, his illustrations look trivial. But the closer you look, you can see his social commentary.

Some of my favorite pieces of art from him, as well as his inspirations:

Roy Lichtenstein art1Roy Lichtenstein art2Roy Lichtenstein art3Roy Lichtenstein art5Roy Lichtenstein art6Roy Lichtenstein art7Roy Lichtenstein art9Roy Lichtenstein art10

Lichtenstein2-1024x1024roy_lichtenstein_detailA little bit of Roy Lichtenstein for ... 1964 by Richard Hamilton 1922-2011

Some other favorites:

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My favorites of his were his commentary on war (yes, Artists can make strong social/political commentary — to change the world):

Roy Lichtenstein art 214


Roy Lichtenstein BMW Art car:

Roy’s inspiration for the car:

“I wanted to use painted lines as a road, pointing the way for the car. The design also shows the scenery as it passes by. Even the sky and sunlights are the be seen. You can list al the things a car experiences— the only difference ist hat this car mirrors all thse things even before it takes to the road.”

1997 BMW 320i Group 5 Race Version

  • 4-cylinder inline engine
  • Turbocharged
  • 2.0 Liter Engine
  • 300 Horsepower

Photos the car:

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2. Alexander Calder x 1975 BMW 3.0

“Where everything is already perfect, there can be no fulfillment.” – Alexander Calder

Alexander Calder with his BMW art car:


To take a step back, the first art BMW car was made by Alexander Calder.

The car was a 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL

  •  6-cylinder inline engine
  • 3.2 Liter engine
  • 480 Horsepower.


He painted on the car, using it as his canvas. Not following the lines of the car, he broke convention.

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Note the bright palette Calder used– the juicy-orange, the sun-yellow, the blue, the crimson red, and black and white.

Some of his most famous works:

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To me, studying his compositions, and color palette inspires my photography and art.

3. Andy Warhol x 1979 BMW M1 Group 4 Race Version

andy warhol bmw art car4

1979 BMW M1, 6-cylinder inline engine, 3.5 Liter engine, 470 horsepower.

“I tried to portray a sense of speed. When a car is going really fast all the lines and colors become a blur.” – Andy Warhol

Warhol was born in Pittsburgh in 1928, and started off as a successful graphic artist in advertising. He popularized ‘mass productions’ of prominent faces, Soup Cans, and was one of the great innovators of Pop Art.

To me, I love Andy Warhol because he blurred the line between ‘sophisticated high-brow’ art, and everyday life. He was like the street photographer of the art world.

Check out his badass BMW art car:

‘I adore the car, it’s much better than a work of art.’ – Andy Warhol

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To me, what I love about Warhol is that the car was messy. He just literally painted on it. The brush strokes aren’t perfect– yet they are raw, fun, and vibrants. Great use of the Ferrari-red, sky blue, forest-green, and a soft pastel yellow.

4. Frank Stella x 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL


“My design is a kind of blueprint applied to the entire body of the car.” – Frank Stella

Frank Stella’s design is brilliant– looking like black and white on oversize graph paper. The use of different grids, changes the shape and perception of the car. And amazing how much could be done with black and white.

1976 BMW 3.0 CSL
– 6-cylinder inline engine
– Turbocharged
– 3.2 Liter engine
– 750 Horsepower (!!!)

Frank Stella’s 1976 BMW:

Some of Frank Stella’s colorful work:

frank stella art

And his minimalist monochromatic work:


Frank Stella at work
Frank Stella at work

Study pop art, and the guys mentioned here. Figure a way to fuse it with your own art. Mash up all creative arts, remix, and have fun.



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