Jeff Koons to Design Car for BMW

The pop artist has been tapped to create the latest in a long line of “art cars.” Should be wild, judging from recent history.

Jeff Koons

Last night, Jeff Koons threw a party in his Manhattan studio to announce his latest flashy adventure in art and commerce: He’ll be designing the next installment in BMW’s long-running “Art Car” series. He’s in good company–Since 1975, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, and Robert Rauschenberg have all designed Art Cars. (That’s Koons pictured above at last night’s event, looking like a stock broker surrounded by ex-wives (his real ex-wife is a Hungarian-born porn star-turned-Italian parliament member). And come to think of it, Koons actually was a stockbroker in his 20’s–that’s how he funded his early works.


The details of the design will be announced sometime this year. But if the recent past is any judge, it should be pretty wild–and wildly expensive. The most recent artist to create an art car was Olafur Eliasson, who obliged with this strange thing:


Though it was supposedly a functioning hydrogen-powered car underneath, what you’re seeing is the outer shell, which was made out of ice. Intended as a comment on global warming and consumerism, it also had to displayed in an enormous freezer, and retouched everytime it was displayed. Irony, we suppose.

Koons, for his part, has tried his hand at mega-bucks transport design twice before. Two years ago, he christened and designed the Guilty, a yacht owned by art-collector Dakis Joannou (who’s been collecting Koons for decades):

guilty yacht

It looks like a big, jumbled Lichtenstein painting, but it was actually inspired by dazzle camouflage from World War II. Koons also, until recently, was working on a giant installation for the L.A. County Museum of Art, which would have been a $25 million, life-sized working model of a steam locomotive—suspended from a crane, looking for all the world like it was screaming towards onlookers straight from the sky:

dazzle camouflage

Unfortunately that plan is dead, killed by LACMA’s withering endowment funds.

But for BMW, we can’t wait to see what Koons creates. Hopefully, it’ll involve Michael Jackson’s monkey, Bubbles.


About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.