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While we plan on taking some shots and expressing our view of the BMW Art cars this weekend we needed something to hold us over. BMW and our friend Jonathan Spira of the BMWCCA have done just that. Jonathan has shared his personal take with us on the event and BMW has a great release to help us with our wait until Saturday (weather pending).

Jonathan Spira:

Since 1975, BMWs have served as canvases for contemporary artists Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, among others, bringing together artistic and technological ingenuity.

The BMW Art Cars were first exhibited in the United States in 1986 at the BMW Gallery at 320 Park Avenue in a show called BMW And Five American Artists, and again in 1990 at the same venue. (With 7,000 square feet of exhibit space, the BMW Gallery at 320 Park Avenue was established in the 1980s as a North American beachhead for the BMW Museum. By 1991, it had been converted into a showroom, and it closed in 1998 when BMW consolidated dealership operations in the city.)

Today, four of those five original Art Cars returned to New York (Alexander Calder’s car, which was also the first Art Car, is not part of the exhibit) at an exhibit at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan. The cars are accompanied by a 30-by-40-foot canvas by Robin Rhode….On a somewhat personal note, I was happy to welcome the cars back to New York as I had seen them several times in the course of their first two visits.

visit Jonathan ‘s post over at the BMWCCA for his photos and insight.

Official BMWRelease:

A public art installation will open at New York ‘s Grand Central Terminal on March 25, 2009, featuring two distinct sections and made possible by BMW. One is a collection of four iconic BMW Art Cars designed by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. The second is a project by contemporary artist Robin Rhode, who used the all-new 2009 BMW Z4 Roadster mounted with special paint dispensers behind its wheels to create a football-field size painting, a 30 ‘ x 40 ‘ section of which will be shown.

Rhode, Stella and Jake Scott of RSA films, who collaborated with Rhode on the project, will attend a preview of the installation on March 24, 2009. The installation will be free and open to the public from March 25 through April 6, 2009 from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. in Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall®.

“Arts and culture is our City’s signature industry, and it also nourishes many others,” said New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “New York City’s vibrant cultural life is a big reason why so many people want to live here, and it draws visitors here from around the world.”

“BMW is proud to bring the works of some of the world’s most respected artists to New York City as part of a free public art installation,” said Jack Pitney, Vice President of Marketing for BMW of North America. “It is an honor to know that these artists, and so many others, have garnered inspiration from, or expressed their thoughts and points of view through, our cars. Furthermore, to have Robin, Frank and Jake with us at the installation’s preview makes this moment all the more special.”

The BMW Art Car project has a storied history of more than 30 years. Since its founding in 1975, sixteen of the world’s most respected artists, including the four whose works will be displayed in the installation in Vanderbilt Hall®, have designed BMW Art Cars. The cars have been exhibited by museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Louvre in Paris and the Palazzo Grassi in Venice.

The BMW Art Cars will be accompanied by rare, behind-the-scenes footage of the four cars that will be played in the Grand Central Terminal installation. The videos reveal Warhol painting his car, Stella and Rauschenberg discussing their inspirations and influences in creating their respective pieces and various experts discussing the resulting impact of these works.

Occupying the other half of Vanderbilt Hall will be the most recent example of BMW‘s long-standing commitment to the arts – Rhode’s project. In contrast to the renowned BMW Art Car Program, where artists are commissioned to apply artwork to the car’s existing structure, Rhode was given a car to create an interaction that was documented by Scott. Like in the BMW Art Car Program, the car acts as a catalyst for creativity but in an entirely different, transient way.

From a tower 30 feet above his canvas laid out on the floor, Rhode choreographed the movements of an all-new 2009 BMW Z4 Roadster and used a remote control device to direct when and where colored paint was sprayed onto the tires which marked the canvas. Scott, from 40 simultaneous camera angles, captured the interaction between the artist, the BMW Z4 Roadster and its driver, at Los Angeles’ Downey Studios. Rhode’s paintbrush (the BMW Z4 Roadster) and Scott’s video footage of the action will also be part of the installation at Grand Central Terminal. Scott’s footage will be shown in high-definition on a 16 ‘ x 9 ‘ screen.

Rhode has characterized his role in the project as a “creative navigator,” expressing the fun relationship between the artist, design and technological advancements.

“As an artist I am always keen to collaborate with other disciplines like dance, music and now film,” said Rhode. “I’m a pure car enthusiast. But I also liked the idea of going through childlike actions to create a painting that is a way to engage with technology and design.”

Beginning March 24, visitors to www.bmwusa.com will be able to view a special “making of ” film clip, which shows the entire creative process behind Rhode and Scott’s collaboration, as well as detailed information about the BMW Art Car program.

About the BMW Art Car Program

The BMW Art Car Project was originally conceived by the French racecar driver Hervé Poulain in 1975. Since then, prominent artists throughout the world have joined the elite cast of Calder, Stella, Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rauschenberg, and have designed sixteen BMW Art Cars, based on both racing and regular production vehicles. The most recent contributors to the BMW Art Car program are David Hockney (1995), Jenny Holzer (1999), and Olafur Eliasson (2007). New artists are chosen by a prestigious panel of international judges, and BMW is currently in discussions for the development of the seventeenth art car.

BMW Art Cars have been exhibited by numerous museums and galleries throughout the world, including the Louvre in Paris, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. Aside from being displayed at their home base at the BMW Museum in Munich, BMW Art Cars will continue to be shown at future international exhibitions. In 2006, they were sent on an extensive tour of Asia, which took them to Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Korea, Australia, India, Taiwan, China, Russia and Africa. The Art Cars will continue to be exhibited worldwide through 2010.

About Robin Rhode

Rhode was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1976 and is currently based in Berlin, Germany. Rhode incorporates elements of performance, photography, video, drawing, and sculpture all converges and meld to augment his inimitable artistic vocabulary and candid portrayal of Rhode’s imagination. Through historical reference, Rhode’s intellectual constructions continue to reference his South African heritage, yet aim to extend and transgress the physical boundaries of space, time and location, while challenging the conventional definitions of art and expectation.

For more information about Robin Rhode and his upcoming projects, please visit http://www.perryrubenstein.com/artists/robin-rhode/.