cao fei’s BMW ‘art car 18’ delves into chinese contemporary culture

cao fei’s BMW ‘art car 18’ delves into chinese contemporary culture

jun 21, 2016

cao fei's BMW 'art car 18' delves into chinese contemporary culture

cao fei's BMW 'art car 18' delves into chinese contemporary culture
images courtesy of BMW group

since 1975, globally prestigious artists such as; roy lichtenstein, andy warhol and jeff koons, have been creating 'art cars' using contemporary BMW vehicles as their basis. in november 2015, it was announced that the chinese artist, cao fei, and the american artist, john baldessari, had been selected by a jury of distinguished museum directors and curators, to create the 18th and 19th BMW 'art car'. looking ahead to the world premiere in 2017, dr. ian robertson of the board of BMW AG, and cao fei provided designboom with some exclusive insights in to the 18th art model.

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(from left to right) cao dan, dr. thomas girst, cao fei and karim habib at art basel 2016

'the theme of this century is that we enter 'a landscape of no man's land', e.g. autonomous cars and aircrafts and virtual reality. I expect to transcend the current context of 'cars' and to embrace new possible ways of expressions. to me, that not only includes the artist, but also the public.' said cao fei when explaining the influences for her 'art car'.

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insight into the themes sourced for cao fei's 'art car'

considered as the most important chinese contemporary artist, cao fei's BMW 'art car #18' will represent the change that is happening in her country's art culture. furthermore, it is clear that the project will also be influenced by the pollution and constant bad weather of beijing, china – the location of her studio.

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pop culture has been a heavy influence for the project

although her project is being kept very quiet, cao fei explains that no sneak glimpses are available due to her extensive and laborious research processes that are taking a lot of time. these methods have delved her in to exploring different themes from pop culture to virtual reality to the work of previous BMW artists. finding her inspiration even stemmed from looking as far back as the 1950s, where the car of future was pictured to look almost like a UFO's.

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'the racing experience will contribute to my creative ideas' said cao fei

looking at the automobile industry now and what it might be like in the future seems imperative in cao fei's project. recent trips to the BMW factories in shenyang, tiexi and munich, gave her first-hand experiences of the robotics of manufacturing. although too early to confirm, it seems that the reliance on these machines, which she described as a 'modern dance', will be a topical source for her 'art car'.

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it is interesting to note that cao fei does not have a car, does not want to ever own a car and does not want to learn to drive. this will increase the focus of her project on the passenger and the driverless experience – one aspect that she believes will be key in the future of automobiles. after being driven around a racetrack in a BMW 'M6' and 'M4 GTS', she explained how passengers still get this feeling of power and highlights how she doesn't have to own a car to get this same experience.

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john balessari will be creating the 19th BMW 'art car'

john baldessari's BMW 'art car #19' is scheduled for a world premiere in november 2016, whereas cao fei's '#18' will not be revealed until the summer of 2017. stay tuned to designboom to see the first images of the two new additions to BMW's 'art car' collection.

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artist john baldassari



tim spears I designboom

jun 21, 2016

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