The BMW 3.0 CSL, with which Alexander Calder laid the foundation stone for the BMW Art Car Collection in 1975, will be on display at the Irish Museum of Modern Art
from 1 April to 21 June 2009. The car will be displayed alongside a collection of Calders jewellery which the artist designed between the 1920s and 1960s. The exhibition of the Calder car will be the first time one of the collection of 16 BMW Art Cars has been shown in Ireland .
As a sculptor who normally devised his own shapes, Calder managed to free himself from the formal structure of racing cars and, by painting them, aspired to give them his own distinctive mark. As in the case of his sculptures and mobiles, he used intensive colours and gracefully sweeping surfaces which he distributed generously over the wings, bonnet and roof.
Born in Philadelphia in 1898, Alexander Calder started his career as an engineer, only then to follow in his fathers and grandfather's footsteps as a sculptor. Feeling drawn equally towards art and technology, he developed his own completely unique form of sculpture, his constructions being enormous but nonetheless light and floating in appearance. He became famous for his abstract mobiles which were hailed by critics as the most innovative American sculptures of the 20th-century. He died in New York in 1976 at the age of 78.
In 1975 this Art Car designed by Alexander Calder was driven in the 24-hour race at Le Mans by the American Sam Posey as well as Jean Guichet and Hervé Poulain from France . It was the first and last time the car was used in racing. After seven hours the car had to give up due to a defective prop shaft. The car has been on display since then.
Since 1975, prominent artists from throughout the world have designed BMW automobiles of their times, all making extremely different artistic statements. The sixteen exhibits created for the Art Car Collection until now include works by well-known artists such as Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, A.R. Penck, David Hockney, Olafur Eliasson, and Jenny Holzer. The Art Cars reflect the cultural and historical development of art, design, and technology.
It was originally the French racing driver Hervé Poulain who had the idea of letting an artist have his or her way with an automobile. Poulain commissioned American artist Alexander Calder to paint his BMW racing car in the early 70's; this was the spark which led BMW to establish the Art Car Collection.
Commenting on partnership between IMMA and BMW, the Museums Director Enrique Juncosa said: We are delighted to join with BMW in presenting this fascinating exhibition, which aims to shed new light on one of the 20th centurys most important artists, by exploring this wider dimension of his practice. I should like to thank BMW for their support for the exhibition, which I am sure will draw many new visitors to IMMA.