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Pop Art BMWs at Mumbai's Jehangir Art Gallery

July 16, 2007 08:34 IST

Masterpieces can be very moving. But in this case, they literally can move.

BMW, the German manufacturer of high-end automobiles, has created over the last 30 years, pieces of 'rolling art' by getting famous artists to paint its cars.

The BMW Art Car collection today includes 15 Beemers that have been painted by some legendary artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer and David Hockney.

No, these cars will never come on the block for sale -- however, scale models are available for purchase! Though arriving at a value is difficult, each car is insured for over $10 million.

Of the 15 cars, two racing BMWs -- Andy Warhol's 1979 M1 and Roy Lichtenstein's 1977 320i -- are on their way to Mumbai, to be on show at the Jehangir Art Gallery between September 6 and 16.

The cars have been on an Asia-Pacific tour over the last six months and Mumbai is their last destination before they go back to Europe. The Art cars have been on display in museums in Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Singapore, Manila, Sydney and Auckland among other cities.

"2007 is the year of India at BMW group. BMW is not just cars. We wanted to showcase culture and the brand in India, which is why we are bringing the Art cars to the country. These cars are usually never seen out of our museum in Munich, but we decided to show it to a bigger audience," says Peter Kronschnabl, president, BMW India.

"This is just the beginning, we are planning new ideas and unique things for India."

Both the cars to be shown in India are works of Pop Art legends. Warhol's blaze of colours is seen on the racing version of the BMW M1, which participated in the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1979 and took second in its class.

The "Pope of Pop" -- famous for his Campbell's Soup can and impressions of Marilyn Monroe -- has attempted to portray speed.

Lichtenstein, on the other hand, has used his famous dots that are seen in his comic strip art to show all the things that happen to a car. His work is also on a BMW 320i that came first in its class at Le Mans in 1977. The BMW Art Car programme was kick-started by chance.

In 1975, French racecar driver Herve Poulain asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint his BMW 3.0 CSL which he wanted to race at Le Mans. It appealed to the car maker's imagination and many more were commissioned, using established artists.

Srinivas Krishnan in Mumbai