Does the new ‘The 8 X Jeff Koons’ qualify as a BMW Art Car?
I must admit that when it comes to art I’m no world authority on the subject. I like some, can take or leave plenty of it and also indulge in some serious head scratching trying to understand why some folk are prepared to pay so much for something that you couldn’t pay me to hang on my wall. I wouldn’t say I’m a philistine, just not an aficionado either.
Bob is left a little confused by BMW’s latest arty offering
BMW has long been a patron of the arts in various forms but it’s the Art Cars that it’s most famous for and some of them are utterly sumptuous. Some of them have been a little bit weird too – I’m thinking in particular of Olafur Eliasson’s take on the H2R hydrogen-powered record-breaking car that ended up looking a little bit like a hedgehog covered in ice. I wasn’t a huge fan of Jenny Holzer’s V12 LMR either, adding some fairly meaningless slogans to a race car in a reflective material doesn’t really make it art in my book and John Baldessari’s take on the M6 GTLM just looked a little half arsed to me.
But then there are the others, many of which are pretty awesome to my eyes. I’m especially drawn to the earlier cars, in particular the two CSLs by Alexander Calder and Frank Stella. It’s amazing how two designs that are so different both suit the car perfectly. Both cars raced at Le Mans but didn’t make it to the end of the race, but Warhol’s M1 and Roy Lichtenstein’s 320i did manage the full 24-hours and both look sublime. More recently the Jeff Koon’s M3 GT2 that raced at La Sarthe in 2010 is another of my favourites, even if it was cursed with bad luck during the event.
But what’s so special about the art cars is that they’re one-offs, unique creations that encapsulate everything each individual artist wanted to achieve. Not so BMW’s latest arty offering, the snappily titled ‘The 8 X Jeff Koons’ which will be produced as a limited run of special editions numbering 99 cars. BMW hasn’t officially called it an Art Car but theBMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupéwill certainly be a pretty arresting machine with Koons describing it as “sporty and flashy as well as minimalist and conceptual.” While the exterior features Koons’ trademark style I’m not so sure about the interior which seems to be a weird mismatch of bright red and blue.
Unsurprisingly building each car is a long process taking a staggering 285-hours to paint in its 11 different colours. And given how long it takes to build it will also come with a strikingly high price and word from the US, where the vast majority are likely to be sold, is that the Koons’ 8 Series will cost $350,000. Given the chance would you buy one though? And if you did what would you do with it? I should imagine most of them will be squirrelled away in collections with their owners hoping they’ll go up in value. Getting an insurance quote would be interesting too as most insurers are likely to shy away from something with such a convoluted paint job.
But I think the thing that would put me off most is the fact that it looks like an Art Car but it isn’t unique. Would Monets, Picassos and Constables be so coveted and valuable if each artist had painted 100 canvasses in an identical manner? On the other hand, the Koons 8 Series does look like a bit of snip given the Warhol M1 is reckoned to be the world’s most valuable car… but as I’m not an art buff I think I’ll take my M1 in normal road-going form. And I won’t even quibble over the colour…