As the 21st century has spiraled unceasingly, producing increasingly heightened ways for artists to engage with high-octane capital and creative collaborations, Jeff Koons has found a new way to raise eyebrows. On Thursday, BMW announced the debut of the 8 X JEFF KOONS edition, a limited series of 99 BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupés that’ve been embossed with a design specially created by Koons; this is the latest iteration in BMW’s Art Car project. What Koons came up with is a cartoon-adjacent tribute to Pop Art that interpolates eleven different colors, puffs of smoke and explosions of stars. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse is touting this as a “rolling sculpture” that’s intended “not only be displayed as a coveted collector’s item in museums but will also be allowed to flourish on the road as a genuine BMW.”
It’s actually the second collaboration Koons has done with BMW; his first was in 2013. And of course, automobiles can absolutely fall within the confines of art. Artist John Chamberlain is famous for his crushed car sculptures, which he twisted and mangled in the 1960’s as a response to what could perhaps be called the Golden Age of utopian American car culture. Several decades later, the American relationship to cars is much more fraught: car crashes kill over 38,000 people annually in the United States and cause a further 4.4 million injuries. Mounting studies are indicating that in order to envision sustainable cities, metropolitan areas should be redesigned and rethought in order to move away from being car-centric.
It’s into this transitional period that Koons has dropped his souped-up limited series, and it’s inevitable that his target audience will probably lap it up. Plus, though Koons is a prominent name, it’s not the first time a vehicle brand has collaborated with the art world in some shape or form. Rolls-Royce has done a partnership with Serpentine Galleries; Jaguar has engaged with the Royal Institute of Architects. The trend has already begun, so let’s just keep it rolling.