New art car racer will make its competition debut in Daytona

Art cars are always fun, especially when an automaker makes it annual habit to introduce one. Over the past few years, BMW has done just that, releasing some colorful pieces like Andy Reiben’s 3 Series “Fluidum” from 2013 and Jeff Koons’ M3 GT2 from 2010. The latter even participated in that year’s staging of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, adding another layer of lore to the German automaker’s yearly tradition. 2016 now sees the continuation of that tradition with the introduction of the M6 GTLM Art Car, designed by no less than John Baldessari, the world renowned, 85-year old American conceptual artist, who is famous for his minimalistic approach toward art that combines colors, shapes, and texts.

It’s no surprise then that Baldessari’s interpretation of the M6 GTLM Art Car includes these elements. It is surprising though that for all of his years in the art game, Baldessari, by his own admission, had only done one project that involves a car, and that was just a two-dimensional image of car. Tasked with working on an actual car – and a big one at that with the M6 GTLM racer – Baldessari took on the challenge of creating a piece that showcased the car’s status as an “icon of contemporary life” while also infusing his own trademark ideas.

The final product is tamer in design compared to the works of Reiben and Koons, but fans of Baldessari should appreciate how the 85-year old artist was able to translate his ideas and create a piece that’s worthy of being included in BMW’s growing number of personality-driven art cars.

And just like Koons’ M3 GT2 Art Car, Baldessari’s M6 GTLM racer won’t just be a showpiece model; it’s actually headed to a race track where it’s scheduled to compete at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona on January 28 and 29, 2017. In the meantime, those interested in seeing the M6 GTLM Art Car in the flesh can do so at the Miami Beach Art Basel event, which is currently on-going.

Continue after the jump to read more about John Baldessari’s BMW M6 GTLM Art Car.

  • 2017 BMW M6 GTLM Art Car
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What makes John Baldessari’s BMW M6 GTLM Art Car

2017 BMW M6 GTLM Art Car
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2017 BMW M6 GTLM Art Car
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If you’ve ever seen some of John Baldessari’s works, you know that the man has a particular fondness for taking real photographs and splashing in some colors and shapes in them. I’m not an art connoisseur by any means, so that’s the best description I can think of. His arguably most famous for using colorful circles to cover the faces of the people in his works, and based on that very minimal knowledge, we can see that Baldessari’s work on the M6 GTLM includes this peculiar style. Notice the red and green circles on the front bumper and the massive red circle on the roof that actually looks a lot like the Japanese flag? That’s Baldessari’s style through and through. The large blue rear wing with yellow end plates and the striped yellow design on the M6 GTLM’s hood are also trademarks of the artist’s colorful style. The other noticeable part about the Baldessari’s M6 GTLM Art Car are the car’s doors where the word “FAST” appears on the driver-side door and an image of a bare white M6 GTLM can be found on the passenger-side door with that particular image creating an Inception-like look, at least when viewed from that specific angle.

That’s pretty much the extent of John Baldessari’s artistic interpretation of the BMW M6 GTLM. Other details like the racing liveries all come from BMW. By comparison, his creation looks more subdued than past BMW Art Cars, most notably the prism-like festival of colors that was Jeff Koons’ M3 GT2 race car and Reiben’s “Fluidum” 3 Series that not only had a psychedelic look to it, but it also glowed in the dark.

2010 BMW M3 GT2 Art Car High Resolution Exterior
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2013 BMW 3-Series "Fluidum" Art Car by Andy Reiben High Resolution Exterior
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Side-by-side photo of Jeff Koons' BMA M3 GTS Art Car and Andy Reiden's 3 Series "Fluidum" Art Car

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s not forget about the BMW 650i Gran Coupe Art Car that was commissioned by the Umm Al Nar dealership in Abu Dhabi as part of the “Road is your Easel” art event. That 650i Gran Coupe looked like it was ride beside a color wheel that had just exploded.

2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe Art Car Exterior
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Note: Photo of the BMW 650i Grand Coupe Art Car.

So call Baldessari’s work conservative or tame compared to other Art Cars. That’s an easy comment to make given that the artistic elements don’t literally cover the entire car. But if you’re going to do it, keep in mind that the man responsible for the M6 GTLM Art Car is one of the most famous American artists today and is the recipient of a lifetime’s work of awards and recognitions.

It’s also worth noting that Baldessari’s M6 GTLM Art Car isn’t the only “unique” version of the race car that will compete or has competed at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Earlier this year, another M6 GTLM racer competed in Daytona sporting a unique design that paid homage to the German automaker’s 100th anniversary. That 100th M6 GTLM 100th Anniversary, as it was called, ended up finishing 11th in its class and 47th overall.

Here’s to hoping that Baldessari’s M6 GTLM Art Car fares a lot better than the last year’s special edition M6 GTLM.

Length 4,944 mm
Width 2,046 mm
Wheelbase 2,910 mm
Weight under 1,250 kg
Model Based on the S63 production engine and slightly modified for the specific requirements of motorsport; with M TwinPower turbo technology
Type V-8
Size 4.4-liter
Output up to 585 horsepower
Chassis Self-supporting steel chassis - Welded safety cage in line with latest FIA standards - Carbon-fibre crash structure at front and CFRP crash element at rear
Tank up to 120 litres (depending on regulations /BoP)
Brakes 6-piston, fixed caliper at front - 4-piston, fixed caliper at rear
Kirby Garlitos
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Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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Press Release

Photo Credit: BMW

Miami Beach. On November 30, the VIP Preview day of this year’s edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, the BMW Art Car by John Baldessari celebrated its world premiere. The 19th vehicle of the BMW Art Car Collection was designed by the American master of conceptual art and revealed in the presence of the artist himself, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America, and Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, at an exclusive reception at the Botanical Garden of Miami Beach. John Baldessari’s BMW M6 GTLM, a race car featuring 585 hp, will be on public display until the closing of Art Basel. Following the 40-year tradition of BMW Art Cars, John Baldessari’s “rolling sculpture” will then prove itself on the race track of Rolex 24 at DAYTONA on January 28 and 29, 2017.

Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO, BMW of North America: “It is an honor to add this new masterpiece by John Baldessari to the BMW Art Car Collection today. As one of the most important contemporary artists working today, John joins an incredible group from Calder and Hockney to Warhol and Koons that has contributed to this collection over the past forty years. He has used his signature aesthetic combining color, shapes and text to create a visually stunning work which will stand out at both the museum and on the racetrack in Daytona early next year.”

BMW Art Car #19 by John Baldessari

“I have done only one work in my life involving a car before, and that was an image of a car. So for the BMW Art Car project, I entered uncharted territory, not just in terms of the subject, but also moving from two- to three-dimensional art. A challenge I did enjoy! The ideas all came at once: for instance, the red dot on the roof, so you can see it from above, FAST on one side and a picture of the car on the other side. I like the ambiguity, having two-dimension and three-dimension at the same time. Considering the car as an icon of contemporary life, my concept turned out playfully satirical, but it also highlights some of the trademark ideas that I use. So you can say, the BMW Art Car is definitely a typical Baldessari and the fastest artwork I ever created!” – John Baldessari

For the 19th BMW Art Car, John Baldessari as the legend of an entire LA art scene drew on his famous artistic trademarks. Designing the car, this American artist turned to well-known stylistic devices and created an iconic work which unites his creative practices of the past fifty years in a unique manner. As a committed minimalist, he worked with the colours red, yellow, blue and green and with his monochrome dots, he left his familiar colourful marks on the M6 GTLM as well. Baldessari’s ironic play on the multi-dimensionality of the race car as an art object is most obvious in the graphic reflection of the car in profile. And with “FAST” as a central typographic element the artist boldly transports the power of the BMW Art Car to its outside and makes it visually accessible for the viewers both at the race track and the museum.

John Baldessari spearheaded and oversaw the design of the 19th BMW Art Car, which was executed with the help of a team of BMW engineers in early November at the BMW Body & Paint Training Center West in Oxnard, California.

The BMW M6 GTLM on the race track

In January 2016, the BMW M6 GTLM made its debut on the Daytona International Speedway. It passed its first test with flying colours and was ranked fifth. The 19th BMW Art Car will be put to the test at this very same site and compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona from January 28 to 29, 2017. Run by BMW Team RLL, the car will be entered in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC). Since 2009, the BMW Team RLL together with BMW Motorsport North America has won five titles and twelve victories. And the first season of the BMW M6 GTLM also was successful with a total of three podium finishes in Sebring, Watkins Glen and Road America. This track record is to be continued in 2017. Bill Auberlen (US), Alexander Sims (GB), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Bruno Spengler (CA) will take turns in driving the BMW Art Car.

Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport Director, said, “It will be a great honour for us to present the 19th BMW Art Car on the race track – and especially to bring it to an event steeped in tradition such as the 24 Hours of Daytona. The design of this BMW M6 GTLM is absolutely unique. We will give our very best to ensure that this rolling work of art will not only provide a visual highlight but also be successful on the track.”

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