BMW Technology And Art Worth Millions Coming Back To OZ
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The now famous BMW Art Car Collection is coming back to Australia for the first time in 18 years. The collection which had its world premiere at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in 1989 includes a car painted by Andy Warhol. It has been described as priceless.

They may not be the latest in technology on the surface, but the BMW Art Car Collection, which is due back in Australia in June, is definitely packed with technology under the bonnet.  In fact some of the technology such as multi valve engines and BMW braking systems first appeared in the cars painted by the BMW Art Car artists. 

Ken Done paints his Art Car

The collection which had its world premiere at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney in 1989 is due back in Australia in June 07 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Among the rare BMWs coming back to Australia are Art Cars painted by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Frank Stella.

Michael Jagamara Nelson Paints his BMW Art Car


Between 1989 and now, millions of people have seen the collection around the world at locations like the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Under the bonnet of each Art Car is a BMW motor car than has won a World Championship, Le Mans or a European Touring car championship. In 1989, Australians Ken Done and Michael Jagamara Nelson were commissioned to paint a BMW Art Car. As a creator of one of these unique pieces, they joined an elite group of global artists, which includes Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg.



 The Art Car concept began in1976, when Alexander Calder was commissioned to embellish the BMW of his friend, French racing driver Herve Poulain.  However the project stalled and the cars were warehoused at the BMW 5series plant in Germany until they were resurrected and bought to Australia.

 As the project manager for the BMW Art Car Collection I worked closely with both Ken Done and Aboriginal artist Michael Jagamara Nelson.







When commissioned, Ken Done, made his racing car as optimistic and colourful as his pictures. The style he chose was intended on one hand to express the fascinating appeal of the M3 as a fast and dynamic automobile, while on the other hand it had to be typically Australian.

This is why Done intentionally chose an abstract rendition of parrots and parrot fish: ‘Both are beautiful and move at fantastic speed. I wanted my Art Car to convey the same impression.” He said at the time.

The Art Car Collection was not without its dramas. In an effort to test the baking capability of Aboriginal Art in an automotive oven used to bake the paint dry on a motor car, a BMW 3 series door was shipped to Michael Jagamara Nelson in the Northern Territory outback. When the door was returned it was baked and taken to the Powerhouse Museum. Mysteriously the door which overnight was suddenly worth tens of thousands of dollars, disappeared only to turn up months later in the office of the then director of the Powerhouse Museum.  It was later donated to the Powerhouse Museum by BMW Australia.