BMW is renowned for creating a selection of ‘art cars’ well known across the world. In 1975 the BMW group launched The BMW Art Car project, which was introduced by the French race car driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain, who wanted to invite an artist to create a canvas on an automobile. Since then, BMW has been working with prominent artists to transform some of its vehicles into masterpieces.
In the year 1999, Dr. Esther Mahlangu became the first woman to create artwork on a BMW 525i Sedan. Stepping into the league of Andy Warhol and David Hockney, (both world-renowned artists who created previous art cars for BMW) the South African renowned Ndebele artist turned the sedan into a colourful, unique BMW Art Car by painting the outside of the car.
In 2016, Dr. Esther Mahlangu was once again asked by the BMW Group to refine a BMW 7 series in a traditional Ndebele design. This vehicle was on display at the Frieze Art Fair which took place in London in 2016 and later on part of the exhibition.
It’s great to see this form of art still gaining a lot of popularity even today. Inspired by this great moving art, racing car enthusiast, Paolo Cavalieri commissioned a well-known South African artist, Sam Nhlengethwa to paint his BMW 745i Group A Car. The BMW 7 series modified race car (which is also the South African champion of 1986), built and driven to numerous victories at Kyalami by Tony Viana, also now carries unique artwork reflecting the people and culture of Johannesburg.
Sam designed and then painted the rear and roof of the BMW. This unique artwork was revealed at the iconic Goodman Art Gallery in 2019.