Internationally renowned artist Julie Mehretu will create the 20th BMW Art Car.
Renowned artist Julie Mehretu
If life is a canvas, it is clear Julie Mehretu has mastered her craft. The acclaimed New York-based, Ethiopian-born artist expertly designs projects across mediums, imbuing them with her unique creative vision. This season, Mehretu finds herself embarking on an exciting new collaboration that combines her passion for art and design with the thrill of motor sport. BMW recently announced Mehretu as the artist commissioned to design the 20th BMW Art Car (bmwusa.com).
Mehretu was unanimously selected by an international jury of museum directors and curators to create the latest installment in BMW’s legendary collection of “rolling sculptures.” BMW will feature Mehretu’s BMW M Hybrid V8 Art Car in the 24-hour race of Le Mans in June 2024, continuing a tradition that has captivated art and motor sport enthusiasts alike for nearly 50 years. Since 1975, world-renowned artists from Alexander Calder to Jeff Koons have designed BMW racing cars, merging creativity and engineering prowess.
Since 1975, esteemed artists from all over the world have been designing BMW Art Cars.
“I’ve loved cars for most of my life, as toys, as objects, as possibilities,” Mehretu says. “The thrill of the speed, the 24-hour race of Le Mans, and what is possible to invent in hybrid and fully electric vehicles as future modes of play and pushing ahead into new terrains of transportation and motor sports.”
“The BMW Art Car Collection is a central element of our global cultural commitment, which has been in place for more than 50 years,” says Ilka Horstmeier, member of the board of management of BMW AG, human resources and real estate. “The combination of technology and art, of design and motor sport, sparks a timeless fascination. I have admired Julie Mehretu’s work for many years. I am particularly pleased that our cooperation will have a lasting cultural impact beyond the vehicle she has designed, especially in Africa.”
Though stunning masterpieces like the Art Car are not for sale, the underlying vision moves ever closer to electrifying BMW's production fleet. The XM’s hybrid-electric powertrain system underscores their investment in this high-performance and sustainable propulsion technology. The Art Car’s adventurous design and advanced powertrain are harbingers of the new era to come for the brand. BMW continues writing the next chapter of sustainable mobility, staying true to its performance pedigree while embracing an electrified future.
The collaboration between BMW and Mehretu will extend well beyond the racetrack. In 2025, Mehretu and Emmy-nominated producer Mehret Mandefro will host a series of gatherings across eight African cities over nine months. The workshops aim to provide a forum for artists to connect across local contexts and consider new ways to build just societies.
The methodology draws on the Exodus Media Workshop, an arts education lab focused on reshaping identities and representations. The results of these transformative workshops will be unveiled alongside the 20th BMW Art Car at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
With a storied career spanning over two decades, Mehretu has cemented her status as an influential and pioneering contemporary artist. Her paintings, prints and drawings explore history, space and experience, inviting the viewer into a visual articulation of the modern world. Born in Ethiopia, Mehretu moved to the U.S. at age 7 and holds degrees from Kalamazoo College and the Rhode Island School of Design. Represented by Marian Goodman Gallery, Mehretu has been the subject of major exhibitions at renowned institutions worldwide. An innovator defined by her bold and thought-provoking style, Mehretu is poised to make a striking and lasting impression with her design for the BMW Art Car. As her vision takes shape, the 2024 race at Le Mans will surely be one for the history books.
The canvas for the 20th BMW Art Car is the BMW M Hybrid V8.
Photography by: All photos courtesy of brand