For the Olympics, London's ICA Launches Showcase of BMW's Arty Autos in East End Car Park

For the Olympics, London's ICA Launches Showcase of BMW's Arty Autos in East End Car Park
Jeff Koons 17. BMW Art Car, 2010 (BMW M3 GT2)
(Photo: Tom Medwell)

LONDON — The Institute of Contemporary Arts might have been forced to shut down during the Games to clear the ground for the beach volley court, but that won't stop it from taking part in the Olympic cultural effort. The institution has chosen to operate off-site, and in addition to staging an online exhibition of sound art, "Soundworks," it is unveiling today BMW's storied collection of artist-designed cars.

The showcase takes place over six floors of a car park in Shoreditch, East London, and has been described by director of London 2012 Ruth Mackenzie as "a highlight of our festival." The display includes automobiles customized between the mid-1970s and 2010 by the likes of David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol.

It is the first time that the BMW Art Car Collection is shown in the UK. The project started in 1975 when racing driver and auctioneer Hervé Poulain asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to decorate what was for him "an already perfect object." Some of the biggest names in contemporary art followed suit, most recently American Jeff Koons.

"These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy," said Koons, who came to London to launch the new project earlier this month. "You can participate with it, add to it and let yourself transcend with its energy." 

The BMW Art Car Collection showcase is supported by mayor of London Boris Johnson, who told the Telegraph last month, that he is "broadly positive" about plans for a possible London Grand Prix currently being investigated by the bank Santander, already the sponsor of the McLaren Formula One racing team. Fast cars are clearly setting London's heart racing.

To watch a video presentation of the BMW Art Car Collection, click below:


"Art Drive! The BMW Art Car Collection 1975 – 2010," July 24 – August 4, 2012 NCP Great Eastern Street Car Park, 35 Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London, EC2A 3ER