BMW unveils Art Car design for Le Mans

BMW has taken the wraps off the design of its ‘Art Car’ for the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours, which will compete for the overall victory in the Hypercar class.

The livery, designed by New York artist Julie Mehretu, will be used on the No. 20 Team WRT M Hybrid V8 driven by Robin Frijns, René Rast, and Sheldon van der Linde in the French classic. It was presented at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on Tuesday evening, along with its concept titled “performance painting”.

This is BMW’s 20th official Art Car and the first since the 2017 season, when John Baldessari designed a livery for an RLL M6 GTLM that competed at the Rolex 24 Hours and a ‘virtual art car’ on an M6 GT3 featuring a concept from Cao Fei took part in the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.


“The whole BMW Art Car project is about invention, about imagination, about pushing limits of what can be possible,” said Mehretu. “I don’t think of this car as something you would exhibit. I am thinking of it as something that will race at Le Mans. It’s a performative painting. My BMW Art Car was created in close collaboration with motorsport and engineering teams. It is only completed once the race is over.”

BMW explained that the process behind the design saw Mehretu transform a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional representation for the first time, “with which she succeeded in bringing dynamism into form.”

“Mehretu used the color and form vocabulary of her monumental painting “Everywhen” (2021 – 2023) as a starting point for her design,” BMW continued. “The work is currently on view at the artist’s major retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice (ITA) and will subsequently become part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York (USA), to which it has been gifted.”

Its abstract visual form comes from digitally altered photographs, which are superimposed in several layers of dot grids, neon-colored veils and the black markings.

“In the studio where I had the model of the BMW M Hybrid V8 I was just sitting in front of the painting and I thought ‘What would happen if this car seemed to go through that painting and becomes affected by it?’” Mehretu said. “The idea was to make a remix, a mash-up of the painting. I kept seeing that painting kind of dripping into the car. Even the kidneys of the car inhaled the painting.”

Full-time WRT Hypercar driver Sheldon van der Linde described the prospect of competing in the car is an “honor.”

“I love the bold graffiti look that Julie Mehretu has gone for with our Art Car,” he said.” I’m a huge fan of abstract art and have tried to incorporate her style into a one-off helmet design I will have for Le Mans. If the car is as fast and bold as it looks, we’re in for a very good weekend.”

Franciscus van Meel, the CEO of BMW M GmbH, said: “Our return to Le Mans is spectacular for several reasons. For the first time since our victory in 1999, exactly 25 years ago, we are competing with the BMW M Hybrid V8 in the top class of the world’s biggest endurance race.

“We are facing the highest-class competition currently available in racing in the Hypercar category. With more than 300,000 spectators, the 24 Hours of Le Mans also provides an overwhelming stage for the launch of the 20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu. It stands in a great tradition of rolling works of art that have competed at Le Mans. I find the design fantastic and can’t wait to see how it will captivate all participants at this mega-event.”

Story originally appeared on Racer