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BMW and Contemporary Art

In 1972, three large-scale paintings commissioned by the BMW Group, entitled “Red”, “Yellow” and “Blue”, were completed by the artist Gerhard Richter specifically for the new foyer of the Group’s Munich headquarters. This was when BMW first became involved in cultural affairs. It was Hervé Poulain who had the idea for the first BMW Art Cars – all of which competed in races. The BMW Group also established partnerships with local museums and theatres as part of its recruitment program for qualified employees for its new plant in Dingolfing.

Contemporary art is a major focal point of its cultural sponsorship. The following are just a few examples: The 16th BMW Art Car, created by Olafur Eliasson, was unveiled in 2007. The “AutoWerke” photo collection, featuring works by Thomas Demand, Thomas Struth, Candida Hoefer, Rineke Dijkstra and others, was presented as a gift to the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig to mark the opening of the new BMW plant in 2005. The prize awarded by the Nationalgalerie Berlin, the “Prix BMW” at the Paris Photo fair and the “Premio de Pintura” in Spain all aim to promote young art. BMW is or has been a sponsor at the main art exhibitions, where it also provides VIP shuttles.

The BMW Group also works together with prominent contemporary artists when it launches new products. It also sponsors the formats of numerous museums worldwide. For almost 20 years now employees have displayed their own works of art in the “Gallery 71” at BMW headquarters. The BMW Group also sponsors an exhibition room at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts where students curate their own works and installations. Rather than always presenting modern and contemporary art in the same way, the aim of the collection is to focus specifically on each location, enabling emerging art to be displayed outside of the market environment.

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