CARJACKED (After Damien Hirst)
"I was always a colorist, I’ve always had a phenomenal love of color… I mean, I just move color around on its own. So that’s where the spot paintings came from—to create that structure to do those colors, and do nothing. I suddenly got what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of color."
For the fourth digital BMW Art Car, Coll.eo worked with Damien Hirst to bring his celebrated spot paintings on wheels. This project comes a quarter of a century after Hirst created the first spot on board in 1986 while a student at Goldsmiths college, London. Since then, Hirst has created approximately 1500 spot paintings. Hundreds of bright and flatly painted circles of household gloss were painstakingly painted on the off-white body of a state-of-the art BMW 850 CSi. The aesthetic efficiency of the spots mirrors an equally ruthless Teutonic technology that powers the ultimate driving machine for the élites. In production between 1992 and 1996, the 850CSi is a top-of-the-range sports tourer. An opulent, over-the-top, excessive automobile. Unfortunately, production ended in late 1996 because the S70 engine powering the vehicle could not be modified to comply with new emission regulations without substantial re-engineering.
Hirst’s deep love for BMW comes as no surprise. He is reportedly Britain’s richest living artist. Hirst is not a mere man of taste. He is a tastemaker. The ingenuity of the spot paintings reflects the creativity and class of BMW aesthetics. His spots are insistently frontal without being confrontational. Elegant but never predictable. A syrupy palette mixed with earth tones: Hirst’s car is pure eye candy for the rich and privileged.
Visually exhilarating but never accessible, this sculpture on wheels is entitled Adderall Epiphany. Aligned in a grid-like structure, the dots are a chemical power-up for the optical nerve. This splendid BMW is a mobile pharmacy.
Born in Bristol, England in 1965, Hirst lives and works in London and Devon, United Kingdom. Hirst has offered to voluntarily repair the car in case of an accident.
In 1998, Hirst collaborated with Paul Simonson, who played bass guitar for the punk band The Clash. Before becoming a rockstar, Simonson studied art in the mid-1970s. Since the demise of The Clash in 1984 he has become a full-time painter. Simonon painted a Citroën car and Hirst, an art-student-turned-rockstar, added his trademark spots over the top. Today, the“Spot Car Painting” is considered a minor classic.
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In April 2003, the Saatchi Gallery opened at new premises in County Hall, London, with a show that included a Hirst retrospective. The show featured a Mini Car decorated for charity with his trademark spots. It was Hirst’s second BMW project, although it was not included in the BMW Art Series canon as MINI is a separate brand. Hirst was reportedly unhappy.
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Increasing frictions between Hirst and BMW came to a head in 2008 and the relationship between the legendary artist and the car maker ended. In 2010, Hirst painted a one-of-a-kind AUDI A1. The car is on sale for £350,000, significantly less than the price tag of his BMW 850 CSi.
Image credit: Damien Hirst, “Isonicotinic Acid Ethyl Ester”, Household gloss on canvas, 99 x 147 inches, 2010-2011. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.