It only took thirty minutes to create from start to finish, but the fourth BMW Art Car—the one painted by Andy Warhol in 1979—is a strong contender for the most appreciated of the collection, which currently includes 19 vehicles. Get close enough, and you’ll see that Warhol quite literally slathered paint onto the panels, with thick brushstrokes present in numerous places. The pattern also seems haphazard when viewed from an unflattering angle, but from most perspectives, the flowing colors create the effect of the car moving at speed.
It’s been 40 years since Warhol liberally applied his paint to the M1. To commemorate the anniversary, BMW released the photos featured in this article, which combine excellent lighting and a backdrop full of contrasting tones against which the Warhol M1 appears downright vibrant. But these aren’t just a new set of BMW press photos; instead, they’re the work of a Munich-based automotive photographer who won a contest held by BMW on Instagram.
Last year, Stephan Butler participated in BMW’s Shootout 2018 competition, which was a joint effort by BMW Classic, BMW Motorsport, BMW M, and BMW Culture—whatever that last one is. The prize for winning the contest was a full-production photoshoot with any vehicle of their choosing from the BMW Classic collection. Butler chose the Warhol M1, which he had staged and choreographed in an abandoned industrial facility in Cologne, Germany.
The results are stunning. Sitting in the drab, brick factory structure which features a smokestack in its center, the M1 is a testament to the engineering achievements of man. Vivid shades of paint seemingly jump off the panels as their shapeless arrangement flows rearward, while natural light pours in from the windows, ceiling, and vents of the building.
Every angle is exquisite, but it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics, and to forget that this car competed at Le Mans the same year it felt the Warhol’s paintbrush, where it was driven to finish second in its class, and sixth overall.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]