Since 1975, with an irregularity that undermines traditional German stereotypes, BMW has commissioned some of the world's best known and most talented artists to transform the marque's performance, street, and racing vehicles into works of art. Known as the "Art Car Collection," these vehicles generally live at the BMW Museum in Munich, but they've traveled around the world and have been recognized by or shown at prestigious venues that include the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, the Palazzo Grassi, and the Guggenheim. Previous cars have been completed by such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Jenny Holzer, Frank Stella, Robert Rauchenberg, David Hockney, and Alexander Calder.
BMW continued its sporadic tradition in 2013 by unveiling, for the first time in North America, its latest Art Car. Pictured here, this vehicle – a 2010 M3 GT2 race car painted in a vibrant, geometric, and life-affirming sploosh, by Jeff Koons – was shown at Art Basel Miami Beach, the annual South Florida art bacchanal that takes place at the start of each December. BMW's connection goes deeper and longer than this; since the fair's founding, it has been a partner and sponsor, and in recent years, it has provided a fleet of luxe vehicles to shuttle VIPs around to attend the show, as well as ferrying them to some of the myriad of connected, adjacent, and peripheral events.
We were in Miami for the unveiling of the Koons car at the Miami Botanical Gardens, and also got to see firsthand the Warhol car, which was prominently displayed in the VIP lounge at Miami's Convention Center. According to Dr. Thomas Girst, BMW's head of Cultural Engagement, the brand plans to continue the Art Car program, though it has yet to announce any specifics regarding the next vehicle in the series. These cars are, as a rule, not for sale, but 1:18 scale models of them trade rapidly and dearly – for between $200 and $1,000 – on the collectibles marketplace.
While you're waiting for the next car to be announced, or for your eBay search for "BMW Art Car Models" to load, visit the slideshow above – click on View More Photos – to see all 17 vehicles in the series thus far.