Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car Premieres at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car Premieres at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

This race car continues the long tradition of the BMW Art Cars. Just a few weeks after its World Premiere in the French capital, the newest edition in the storied BMW Art Car collection will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Space, movement and energy have always been central motifs in Julie Mehretu's work. For the design of the 20th BMW Art Car, she transformed a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional representation for the first time, with which she succeeded in bringing dynamism into form. Julie Mehretu used the colour and form vocabulary of her monumental painting “Everywhen” (2021 - 2023) as a starting point for her design. The work is currently on view at the artist’s major retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice and will subsequently become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, to which it has been gifted.

Its abstract visual form results from digitally altered photographs, which are superimposed in several layers of dot grids, neon-coloured veils and the black markings characteristic of Mehretu's work. “In the studio where I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8 I was just sitting in front of the painting and I thought: What would happen if this car seemed to go through that painting and becomes affected by it,” Julie Mehretu says. “The idea was to make a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I kept seeing that painting kind of dripping into the car. Even the kidneys of the car inhaled the painting.”

The close connection between art and motorsport is also an integral part of the history of the BMW Art Car Collection. The very first BMW Art Car, designed by Alexander Calder in 1975, made its dynamic debut at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. As the 20th BMW Art Car, Julie Mehretu's vehicle will compete at Le Mans with starting number 20 and will be driven by BMW M works drivers Sheldon van der Linde (RSA), Robin Frijns (NED) and René Rast (GER) in the 24 Hours of Le Mans from June 15 to 16, 2024. The artist will also design the racing suits in which they will compete at Le Mans.

Julie Mehretu is a world-renowned American painter. She was born in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, in 1970. Together with her family she moved to the U.S. at the age of seven. She lives and works in New York City and Berlin.

Mehretu’s practice in painting, drawing and printmaking engage the viewer in a dynamic visual articulation of contemporary experience, a depiction of social behavior and the psychogeography of space by exploring palimpsests of history, from geological time to a modern-day phenomenology of the social.

Mehretu received her Bachelor’s Degree from the Kalamazoo College in Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, and completed her Master's degree of Fine Art with honors from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1997. Mehretu has received numerous awards, including the The MacArthur Award (2005), The Berlin Prize: Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship at The American Academy in Berlin (2007) and the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award (2015). A midcareer survey of Mehretu's work recently toured at LACMA (Los Angeles), High Museum (Atlanta) The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York) and The Walker Museum of Art (Minneapolis) from 2019 to 2023. Her largest European solo exhibition to date entitled “Ensemble” opened March 17, 2024 at Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

Main Image :The BMW Art Car, an M Hybrid V8 Le Mans Hypercar, was designed by Julie Mehretu. COURTESY BMW

Stephanie Cime

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Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


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