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Fast, Even Standing Still

Artist Jeff Koons’ BMW LeMans 'Art Car.'




Auto racing, aficionados would say, isn’t just a sport—it’s an art. There may be no better proof of this than BMW’s 17th “Art Car,” a beautiful rolling masterpiece created by artist Jeff Koons for this year’s 24 Hours of LeMans, the famous endurance race held in France. Designed to evoke power and emotion, the vehicle wrap seems to be bursting with energy—even when standing still.

As part of his creative process, Koons collected images of race cars, related graphics, vibrant colors, speed and explosions, using these as inspirations for creating his artwork. He then worked with 3-D CAD models of the BMW M3 GT2, to simulate the application of the graphic to the car’s surfaces and evaluate it from all angles. Koons even donned a helmet and joined BMW’s Rahal Letterman Racing Team for testing to experience the M3 GT2 at race speed to further inspire his design.

When completed, the design was handed off to Schmid Design in Motorsports ( in Bavaria, which worked with Koons as well as BMW engineers to produce the wrap. CAD designs were translated from 3-D into 2-D for the printing process and various proofs (soft and hardcopy) prior to final output.

Schmid Design utilized its Roland SolJet Pro III XC-540 printer with Eco-Sol Max inks to output onto Avery media. A double clearcoat was applied to make the graphics pop even more. Final printing took approximately 50 hours, while installation took one week.

Challenges, says Wolfgang Schmid at Schmid Design included, “making the graphic’s lines look straight, fitting the graphic from one body part to the next, and stretching the material in the same style.” Plus, he says, one particular challenge that all race cars likely face: “Doing the same fitting of the graphic for spare parts.”

Since 1975, artists from throughout the world have turned BMW automobiles into art, including well-known names such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg. Koons, however, is the first to use vinyl instead of paint in the process. “These race cars are like life, they are powerful and there is a lot of energy,” says Koons. “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 wanted to let my ideas transcend with the car—it’s really to connect with that power.”






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