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BMW's "Art Cars" roll into Grand Central Station

Posted by: Helen Walters on March 25, 2009

I recently sounded off about Mini’s partnership with Airstream on a one-off concept intended for display at the Milan Furniture Fair next month. I wasn’t convinced that the program made sense given that Mini has had to lay off factory worker and sales looked uncertain. Now another project from BMW has rolled around, right into Vanderbilt Hall in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. This exhibit shows off four of the company’s “Art Cars,” a program it’s run since the mid 70s which allowed established fine artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to have their way with one of the company’s cars. Also on display is the company’s upcoming third evolution of its Z4 roadster, which will be available in May. The car got a starring role in its own marketing campaign (see the YouTube video below) thanks to South African artist Robin Rhode coming over all Jackson Pollock and using it as a way to imprint paint onto a football-pitch sized canvas. The paint splattered car that was used — and a section of the canvas — are also on display here. Also below, a quick interview I grabbed at yesterday’s press event with BMW’s VP of marketing, Jack Pitney, in which I specifically asked him about the thinking behind producing fine art projects and elaborate films in our cash-strapped era.

And here's Jack Pitney, BMW VP Marketing:

Jack Pitney, BMW from Helen Walters on Vimeo.

Reader Comments

Useful Feedback

March 26, 2009 12:25 PM

Frankly: this is not art. What utter nonsense. This is simply dull and flat. Where is the creative thought? I simply cannot see it. Drive through paint and generate patterns - wow - genius. As to the video, a tasteless waste of money. On the upside, blogs seem to pick up on bad campaigns too.

BMW would have done so much better spending their money on a charitable initiative. Help the jobless, help the homeless. Being nice generates good buzz. But please, don't just smudge paint over an oversized canvas. It looks shit and makes you look shit, Mr. BMW.

Mr. Positive

March 27, 2009 3:47 PM

I love when people try to say what art is or isn't.

You can say it's bad art. But you can't hold the keys to saying what is art and what is not.

I passed this display at Grand Central two days ago and though it was intriguing. It's not like the Stella and Warhol art cars that were also displayed at Grand Central, but I also don't think it was supposed to be.

BMW makes cars that are fun to drive. Help the homeless? What are you doing with your time. Maybe you could hop off the internet and go help someone.

Lighten Up

March 31, 2009 12:21 PM

Everyone is an art critic.

I for one find it fascinating and an interesting way to get people to connect to your company.

It's not a car sloshing around on paint just as Pollock wasn't sloshing around paint on a canvas. If you'd seen the display at Grand Central, you'd know the idea and thought behind the piece.

Is this painting a masterpiece that people will be talking about in 100 years? Probably not. But it's a cool idea and a different way to look at a car.

Lighten up. It's fun.


March 31, 2009 12:43 PM

If every company gave all their money to the needy, then all companies would go out of business and we'd all be poor.

I like it. I'm not an art expert or anything, but I was entertained.

And in today's climate, I'll take a little entertainment.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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