Bmw Art Car 1976: 3.0 CSL by Frank Stella

Automotive Design 23 Mar 2006
Bmw Art Car 1976: 3.0 CSL by Frank Stella

The second Bmw Art Car was created by Frank Stella, an American artist and a passionate motor racing fan, who used a black and white square grid pattern taking inspiration from the technical graph-paper.


In 1976 Frank Stella, an American artist and a passionate motor racing fan was commissioned to create the second Bmw Art Car: a BMW 3.0 CSL coupé.

1976 Bmw Art Car by Frank StellaDuring his BMW Art Car conception, the American artist switched gears from his usual random style of painting and sought inspiration for the vehicle’s technical aura. The result: a black and white square quid with an evenness and precision reminiscent of oversized graph paper.

Within this grid, pattern-like, dotted lines run across the bodywork, suggesting that Stella may have wished to cut out the car and reassemble it in a new shape.

The grid pattern – a feature of both Stella’s earlier and later creative period – is often used by him as a kind of stage upon which a painted drama takes place. By way of contrast, the paintwork he created specially for the Le Mans race is not a stage, but the action itself.

1976 Bmw Art Car by Frank Stella
1976 Bmw Art Car by Frank Stella

Frank Stella – The Artist

Frank StellaStella began studying art at the tender age of fourteen . His much-proclaimed works – “Transitional Paintings” and “Black Paintings,” were produced in Stella’s New York art studio. An exhibition of Stella’s work was held at the Museum of Modern Art, beginning in 1959. During this creative period, the influence of the abstract Expressionists is unmistakable. For the next two decades, Stella exhibited throughout the world, while continuing to work as a teacher.

Born in 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts, Frank Stella began studying art when he was only 14 and went on to study history at Princeton. After graduating he set up a studio in New York in which he created much of his most acclaimed work – the “Transitional Paintings” and the “Black Paintings”. He had his work exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art as early as 1959. During this creative period, the abstract Expressionists heavily influenced him.

The large-scale pop art paintings he produced in the 1960’s became a seminal part of American art history. Between 1960 and 1980, Stella exhibited throughout the world, while continuing to work as a teacher.

From 1978 to 1980, a traveling exhibition in the U.S. showed a retrospective of his work. Stella’s “post abstractionist,” large-scale pop art paintings are now imbedded in art history.

Back to the BMW Art Collection main page

(Source: Bmw)


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