When talking about art cars, the BMW Art Car Project is definetely the most iconic example that comes to mind. From the race cars painted by Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol in the 1970s to the most recent M3 GT2 of Jeff Koons, the BMW Art Car Project is proof that cars and art can mix together in a brilliant way. It’s been exactly 40 years since the first art car, Calder’s 3.0 CSL, raced at Le Mans, and the world’s greatest endurance event will see yet another one battle for glory. This time around though, an Aston Martin Vantage GTE is the proud bearer of the art and Tobias Rehberger, the artist that created it.

The car Aston Martin Racing unveiled at the official race instection in the town of Le Mans on June 8th is actually the No. 97 Vantage GTE racing enthusiasts might know for its Gulf livery. However, instead of the usual blue-and-orange suit, the coupe will wear a special livery based on a geometric optical effect pattern during the race. The new paint job was commissioned by the owner of the car, a long-time admirer of German sculptor Tobias Rehberger, who is renowned for his abstract art and optical effects. Much like the rest of Rehberger’s work, the Vantage GTE is about "distorted perception and related phenomena like auto moving patterns, optical effects, camouflage and visual confusion."

The car will be driven by Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Robert Bell in next weekend’s race at Circuit de la Sarthe in the LM GTE Pro class.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Art cars are unique appearances at the race track, more so given they don’t come out too often after their initial ride. Though Rehberger’s effort might not be the most beautiful or intriguing art car yet, it’s great to see that such partnerships between automakers and artists are still of interest in the 21st century. The fact that Rehberger painted a full-fledged race car makes this project that much more exciting, as we’ve only seen just two art race cars on the track since Warhol’s 1979 BMW M1. Hopefully this Vantage GTE will be able to cross the finish line and showcase its livery for 24 hours in a row.

Aston Martin Vantage GTE

2013 Aston Martin Vantage GTE Exterior AutoShow Wallpaper quality
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Find out more about the Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car in our review here.

Press Release

Aston Martin Racing is today unveiling a 24 Hours of Le Mans art car designed by artist Tobias Rehberger. The unique creation gives the Gulf #97 Vantage GTE the illusion of movement and speed, even when static.

Aston Martin Unveils Vantage GTE Art Car Created By Tobias Rehberger Exterior
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Rehberger is renowned for his abstract art and optical effects that distort perception and has received numerous international prizes and awards, including the Golden Lion for best artist at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Aston Martin Racing invited him to design a livery that would work with the Gulf Vantage GTE’s lines and colours in a way never attempted before.

Thirty years since the first art car ran in the 24-hour race, Rehberger set out to create a design that uses geometric shapes and patterns to give the car, when static, the impression of movement and speed.

The German artist, who will attend Saturday’s race as a guest of Aston Martin Racing, explained: “My design for the Aston Martin art car is rooted in my interest in distorted perception and related phenomena like auto moving patterns, optical effects, camouflage and visual confusion, which I have addressed in many works before.

“In this case, the design is based on a geometric optical effect pattern. Comparable to a fast object, a steady fixation on a point of the pattern is impossible.”

The artwork was commissioned by the owner of car #97 who has long-admired the work of Rehberger and was interested to see how he could manipulate the appearance of the race car that is based on Aston Martin’s Vantage road car.

Driver of the car, Darren Turner was impressed with the results: “Personally, I think art cars are fantastic,” commented Turner. “This design really pushes the boundaries of what’s been done before and challenges how we can use patterns and colours in racecar liveries – I love it!”

Aston Martin Unveils Vantage GTE Art Car Created By Tobias Rehberger Exterior
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The design, which will be seen on the side of the #97 Vantage GTE in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, was unveiled at the official race scrutineering in the town centre today (8 June).

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