10 Things You Should Know About Jeff Koons' Art Car

10 Things You Should Know About Jeff Koons' Art CarImage via BMW

Over the past 40 years, BMW has commissioned some of the most influential artists of our time to transform their cars into masterpieces. Some of the artists who have participated are Alexander CalderFrank StellaRoy LichtensteinAndy Warhol, and David Hockney. In 2010, Jeff Koons joined their ranks, designing a colorful, graphic exterior for a BMW M3 GT2. This year will be the first time Koons' Art Car appears in North America at Art Basel Miami Beach. Check out 10 Things You Should Know About Jeff Koons' Art Car before it arrives in Florida. 

Image via BMW

1. Koons debuted his Art Car in 2010 at the Pompidou Center in Paris, the same place Roy Lichtenstein's 1977 Art Car was first revealed.

During the grand opening on June 1, 2010, Koons signed his Art Car in front of 300 guests from around the world. In an interview with T Magazine this year, Koons said, "I very rarely do anything with brands. I worked with BMW to do an art car, and the reason I did that was because of the artists who had participated before, so I would have a dialogue with their work." By launching his Art Car in the same spot as Roy Lichtenstein's BMW collab reveal, Koons emphasized that he is following a long line of artist collaborations with the auto company. At the same time, the location was also a practical decision because the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans race, where Art Car raced 12 days later, also takes place in France. 

2. Koons donated his fee from BMW—two cars—to charity.

BMW gave Koons two cars to repay him for creating the Art Car. The extremely wealthy artist had no need for new cars, so he donated them to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Koons and his wife also promised to double this donation if the Art Car won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Unfortunately, the Art Car did not do as well as expected.

Image via BMW

3. Koons' Art Car is really damn fast.

Based off of the BMW M3 high-performance sports car, Koons' Art is equipped with a 4.0-liter V8 engine, an upgraded chassis, racing-caliber brakes, and aerodynamic materials. This allows the Art Car to reach a speed of about 65 mph in only 3.4 seconds. 

4. It's wrapped in a giant vinyl digital print to make it aerodynamic.

When designing the Art Car, Koons faced the challenge of including his design elements while still maintaining the functionality of a racecar. His solution? A digital print. With this material, he had to translate a 2D design onto the 3D canvas of the Art Car. Koons also covered the Art Car in two layers of clear coating to make the colors more vivid.

5. Bono named Koons as someone who could bring back the automobile's sex appeal five months before Koons revealed his Art Car.

In January of 2010 Bono wrote an OpEd piece for The New York Times, a Top 10 list for the new decade that includes a plea for "The Return of the Automobile as a Sexual Object." Bono laments the fall of the sexy classic cars in favor of SUV culture. In the piece, the Irish rock star suggests that the auto industry look to Marc Newson, Steve Jobs, Jonny Ive, Frank Gehry, and Jeff Koons to reinvigorate car design

Image via Dom Pérignon 

6. Besides BMW, Dom Pérignon is the only other brand Koons has collaborated with.

In his interview with T Magazine, Koons addresses how rare it is for him to collaborate with brands. Similar to what he says about BMW's history of working with artists, Koons continues, "With Dom Pérignon, other artists had been involved in their program. I wanted to participate in that dialogue. Also, they stand for quality—the same kind of quality that I like to attribute to my work." For being pegged a money hungry spectacle by the art world, Koons is not such a sellout.

Image via BMW

7. The Art Car is coming to North America for the first time in December for Art Basel Miami.

While Koons' Art Car was met with international attention in both the art and auto worlds, it has not yet come to North American shores. Next week, however, Koons' Art Car will make its North American debut at the Miami Botanical Garden on Dec. 5 as part of Art Basel Miami Beach. Amid the chaos of the fair, "the Art Car will impart a dynamic appearance even when it’s standing still," according to BMW.  

Image via BMW 

8. Koons collected images of racecars, explosions, and representations of speed to get inspiration for his final graphic.

According to BMW, before designing the Art Car, Koons studied images that would convey the vehicle's power. “These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” Koons said. “You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy. There is a lot of power under that hood and I want to let my ideas transcend with the car—it’s really to connect with that power.” By pulling from graphics that represented this theme, Koons came up with his final design.

Image via BMW

9. BMW trekked 2 hours up a mountain in Norway to shoot an ad with Koons' Art Car.

Luckily, BMW employees didn’t have to drag the Art Car up the mountain themselves—it was flown in by helicopter (check out a video of the Art Car's daredevil landing here). The resulting photos juxtapose the colorful Art Car with the sublime Norwegian landscape, an exhilarating shot that shows that BMW knows no bounds.

10. As a teenager, Koons worked at a local drag strip, an experience that later informed his Art Car design.

A month before the Art Car debuted New York Times reported that Koons sold sandwiches and soda to earn money at a drag strip in his hometown, York, Pa. “I always appreciated the power of those cars," he told the paper. He went on to buy a Pontiac Firebird 400. From these experiences, Koons was able to emphasize the "points of power" when designing his Art Car years later.

Image via BMW 

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