CARJACKED (After Cy Twombly)
Emerging from the New York art world of the early 1950s, Cy Twombly (1928–2011) is one of the most prominent American artists immediately following the Abstract Expressionists. Between 1966 and 1972, Twombly produced a seminal series of works on gray grounds, commonly referred to as the “blackboard” paintings. Made with white wax crayon coils on gray painted grounds, these artworks feature terse, colorless scrawls, reminiscent of chalk on a blackboard, that form no actual words.
In 1971,BMW invited Twombly to decorate a lush 3.0 CLS BMW as part of the German car maker initiative, Art Cars. The artist’s fluid, continuous lines adorn the elegant steel of this gray sculpture on wheels. The nervousness of touch found in Twombly’s style reflects the dynamic style of the BMW driver, whose approach to driving is eminently vigorous. Never impatient but always intolerant of restrictions, the driver - like the artist - owns the road as if it were his canvas. The artist called his abstraction of cursive script “pseudo-writing”. Similarly, to drive a BMW is like writing on the road, leaving one’s marks on the concrete.
Introduced in the early 70s, the 3.0 CLS was one of BMW’s lightest cars. The "L" in the designation meant leicht - German for light - unlike in other BMW designations, where it meant lang (long). Such lightness was achieved by using thinner steel to build the unit body, deleting the trim and soundproofing, employing aluminium for the doors, bonnets, boot lids, and Perspex for the side windows. The lightness of this technological marvel is perfectly mirrored by Twombly's nimble, graceful, and agile signature style. Twombly led the way for other artists that used 3.0 CLS BMW for the Art cars series: both Alexander Calder and Frank Stella painted the same model in 1975 and 1976 respectively.
Image credit: Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1970. Oil-based house paint and crayon on canvas, 13’ 3 3/8” x 21’ 1/8” (405 x 640.3 cm). Acquired by the MoMa/PS1 through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest and The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection (both by exchange). © 2012 Cy Twombly Foundation