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12th Art Car included in the BMW Art Car Collection - 1991

In 1991, Esther Mahlangu was selected to paint the 12th Art Car for the collection, making her the first female and first African artist to join the program.

Since 1975, artists worldwide have been invited to turn BMW automobiles into works of art signifying a particular period of time. With the inclusion of cars painted by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Stella, Rauschenberg, Hockney and Holzer, works from the collection have been exhibited at some of the most renowned museums in the world including the Louvre, British Museum and the Shanghai Art Museum.

In 1991, Esther was invited to paint the 1991 BMW 525i, the 12th car for this iconic collection. Not only was the striking contrast between ancient African art and the high tech vehicle enough to catch any viewer's eye, but Esther’s invite stood out even further given that she was the first female and first African artist to be selected for the collection.

With the car being a completely new material for Esther she took some time to practice on a BMW car door to get a feel for the medium before taking a little over a week to transform a white BMW into her Ndebele patterned masterpiece.

Later in 1991, Mahlangu’s BMW Art Car initially launched at three Art Car exhibitions in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa before it was transported to Germany and then exhibited around the world together with the other cars in the collection.

In an exciting return to the land of its roots the Mahlangu BMW will return to South Africa, in February 2024, to be exhibited as a part of the Esther Mahlangu retrospective exhibition before returning overseas to participate in the overseas legs of the tour.

Project Gallery

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