BMW art cars by Warhol, others in New York exhibit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A can of Campbell’s soup, it’s not. But Andy Warhol still considered the BMW “art car” he designed to be a masterpiece.

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“I adore the car. It’s much better than a work of art,” Warhol said in 1979 when he hand-painted a BMW M1 in bold strokes of red, green, yellow and blue blurred into each other to portray speed.

The car goes on display on at Grand Central Terminal Tuesday along with three other BMW art cars, designed by Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, as part of a public installation which will run through April 6.

The BMW art car project, a continuing effort which commissions artists to use BMW cars as their canvas has produced 16 art cars since the first car designed in 1975 by American artist Alexander Calder.

Lichtenstein’s art car, painted in 1977, has a design which is reminiscent of some of his dotted comic-strip pop art, portrays the scenery a car might pass on the road, with a bright yellow sun painted on the side.

Rauschenberg incorporated photographs of plants to highlight some of the environmental problems in his 1986 design of a BMW 635 CSi, adding a paintings black and white versions of paintings by Ingres and Bronzino on the sides.

One of the cars, designed by Frank Stella in 1976, is covered by a grid that resembles graph paper.

The installation also features a piece by Robin Rhode, a contemporary artist who used a BMW Z4 Roadster’s tires as a “paintbrush” to create a 30- by 40-foot painting.

Rhode is a fan of street racing in his native South Africa where the nickname for a BMW is “gusheshe,” which means “go rapidly.”

After the installation at Grand Central, the BMW art cars will go on a three-museum tour in Mexico.

Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Doina Chiacu