Paint job by Jeff Koons on BMW Canvas

In the late 2000s, when artist Jeff Koons was asked to design BMW Art Car, he considered three concepts. “I made a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” said Mr. Koons.

Since its founding in 1975, the Art Car program has commissioned blue-chip artists – including Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Robert Rauschenberg and Cao Fei – to create one-off iterations of BMW cars, museum-quality works on display or racing. The racing car Mr. Koons debuted in 2010 featured a windy riot with splashes of vibrant color. The design is Plan B, he said.

Plan C failed to sustain Mr. Koons’ interest so he scrapped it. But Plan A stayed with him. “I wanted to create a car that, when it drives past, makes a pop-pop sound,” he said.

Now, ten years later, he’s brought that vision to life with Jeff Koons’ 8, a limited edition of 99 specially designed and equipped versions of the 8-Series Gran Coupe sports sedan. BMW splendor. This car was revealed, virtually, on Wednesday in regards to Frieze Los Angeles Art Fair, which BMW is the official partner. In the US, each example will cost $350,000.

BMW has had success with similar limited editions, including a scheduled run (pandemic hiatus) 500 M2 sports coupe designed by artist Lenny McGurr, who is called Futura, and a series of 150 M4 sports car racing created with Ronnie Fieg of streetwear brand Kith.

As one of the worlds The most famous living artist, Mr. Koons lent cache to provide. “It was good marketing for the company,” said Linda Yablonsky, an art critic and author of the upcoming biography of Mr. Koons. “But Jeff himself is truly an evangelist for the arts. He wants to see art in people’s lives. It doesn’t have to be his own, but he wants people to connect with art in some way because he believes it helps them with what it does for him – enhancing their lives. their lives”.

Discussions between BMW and Mr. Koons about producing a limited edition car for sale to the public date back more than a decade. But it’s unclear what form this cooperation might take.

Thomas Girst, BMW’s head of culture, said: “I think it will be one of these dog-colored balloon cars – bright yellow, magenta, bright blue. The artist’s signature high-gloss sculptureMade of shiny polished stainless steel.

Mr. Koons had another idea in mind. “I started working on the rectangular design which became the kind of atmosphere that I incorporated, this is the emphasis of strength. And I use other visual ways to convey energy and velocity and the excitement of movement,” he says.

However, the bold linear graphics, bright colors, animated stars and explosions are more than just superficial fun. Mr Koons said: “When I’m driving past and someone says, ‘Hey, look,’ it’s not just the fluff coming off. “They see something very introspective and it is visual.”

Design conveys vivid emotions, a passion rooted in enjoyment and fun. This sensuality permeates the interior, with its magic-like arrangement of contrasting colors and textures, all selected by Mr. Koons.

Finishing takes a lot of work. Painting each vehicle requires an 11-step process, including manual painting. According to BMW, this is the most complex paint job ever performed on one of its mass-produced road cars, taking 300 hours to perform on each one. (During one time Mr. Koons visited the factory, according to Mr. Girst, the paint shop workers asked him to sign their paint sprayer. “And he did,” Mr. Girst said.)

Mr. Koons tested similar concepts, on a very different vehicle. “It’s a bit like the paint job he gave him Guilty, a yacht he designed for Greek collector Dakis Joannou,” says Ms. Yablonsky. “Jeff drew upon World War I, camouflaged the dazzling ship, and combined that with a sort of homage to Roy Lichtenstein, one of his artistic heroes,” she continued. .

“So the bright colors of this car and the explosive Pop graphics, like the cartoon, fit well with his art,” she said. “And certainly, like Jeff himself, it’s very optimistic.” She added, “I’m curious to see what it looks like in motion.”

Soon, Miss Yablonsky, and other New Yorkers, would have this wish granted. At the end of March, Mr. Koons is expected to drive Jeff Koons’ 8 through Manhattan, dropping it off at Rockefeller Center, where it will be on display from March 31 through April 4. At the end of the show, the car will be auctioned off by Christie’s, with proceeds going to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a charity that Mr. Koons has regularly supported.

As a means of introducing the car to collectors around the world, further launches are planned this spring and summer (without Mr. Koons) in the United Arab Emirates most, Switzerland, Belgium, China, France and Great Britain.

“There is already a lot of demand in the market, so we are confident that this car will sell out, really quickly,” said Mr. Girst.

Mr. Koons will also receive his own 8 by Jeff Koons. He said he looks forward to driving the car “in New York, and from New York to Pennsylvania,” where he maintains a weekend home – his grandfather’s ranch.

This will be a dramatic change from his usual trip. Since Mr. Koons has eight children and often travels with them, their friends, his wife and nanny, he often drives a 13-seat Mercedes van.

“My kids say, ‘Dad, you should buy yourself a sports car,’ he said. “But I love being with my family. I have the pleasure of being with them. “Since the 8-Series Gran Coupe has four seats, it creates such closeness. “So I ended up with the sports car that I could see myself driving,” he said.

Does this medium elevate art? “It was a car envisioned by an artist,” Ms. Yablonsky said. “But it’s still a car. A function object. Most art doesn’t work like anything other than art. ”

BMW and Mr. Koons remain open to future cooperation. “I think the story with Jeff is definitely an ongoing one,” Mr. Girst said. “The future is definitely electric, so why not, without making any promises, why not explore this further? There are bound to be new challenges in electric car design and new ways for artists to help tackle these challenges. “

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/business/jeff-koons-bmw.html Paint job by Jeff Koons on BMW Canvas

Fry Electronics Team

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