Chinese Artist Cao Fei Creates the BMW Art Car #18

BMW Art CarIn China, 18 is a lucky number. That certainly seems to be true for BMW, who rolled out their latest Art Car at the Minsheng Art Museum in Beijing on May 31st. Following contributions to their art car series by high profile artists such as Jeff Koons and John Baldessari, Chinese artist Cao Fei submitted her entry into the series.

Cao, born in 1978, is the youngest artist yet to create a BMW Art Car. Appropriately, her entry tackles 21st century issues such as airborne cars, autonomous driving, and digitization. Of her project, Dr. Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG said, “For her project, Cao Fei chose an unprecedented and immersive approach, empowering the viewer to engage with the artwork through cutting-edge technology. This is truly a BMW Art Car for the 21st century!”

Cao’s project takes a three-pronged approach. First, she created a digital video featuring a time traveling spiritual practitioner. Next, she created an app (downloadable via the app store via the keyword ““BMW Art Car #18”) that can be used within the body of the final component of her piece–a carbon black BMW M6 GT3 racecar. When the app is used inside the cabin of the racecar, colorful light patterns can be seen. This pays tribute to the spiritual rituals common in Asia, where new vehicles are blessed, granting good luck to both car and driver. In this way, Cao’s piece bridges China’s past and future.

The Art Car series began in 1975, when French racecar driver and art lover Hervé Poulain invited his friend, Alexander Calder, to design a car–creating the BMW 3.0 CS. 19 artists have participated to date, including Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Ernst Fuchs, Robert Rauschenberg, M. J. Nelson, Ken Done, Matazo Kayama, César Manrique, A. R. Penck, Esher Mahlangu, Sandro Chia, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Olafur Elíasson and Jeff Koons.

Of Cao’s addition to the series, Fan Di’an, President of China Central Academy of Fine Arts said, “Cao Fei’s achievement in creating the 18th BMW Art Car through augmented reality as a multimedia installation resonates with the rapid development and huge transformation of China over the past decades, such as globalization, urbanization and digitalization, which drives the flourishing development of contemporary art in China.”