BMW is not alone in its ability to develop partnerships and create associations with the arts. In recent decades it has become the norm for large corporate companies to jump on the band wagon of arts sponsorship, whether it is in visual arts, music or dance, or associate themselves with the Arts by expanding their own art collections. Thomas Girst, Head of Cultural Communications, BMW Group (Germany) states that 'sponsors do not necessarily want to simply fund arts events – BMW Group values genuine partnerships, in which each partner retains their independence and integrity.' It can be argued that companies such as BMW take their sponsorship 'deals' very seriously and want to be seen as having the institution or art events best interests central to their decisions.
BMW set up their own art collection 'Gallery 71' in 1989 at BMW Munich, interestingly they do not own or display works of art by famous artists, but work produced by their own employees. This appears to be a unique approach and one which links BMW to the arts other than through the standard 'art' of sponsorship. BMW also has its own museum BMWzentrum that is dedicated to the history of BMW. The site describes the museum as 'part meeting and events center, part café, part gallery, and part time machine.' On the main page there are clickable icons that transport you to different areas of the site. The areas include information on the Feature Exhibit, an Interactive page to 'Discover the Zentrum', and a clickable icon that takes you on a virtual tour of the museum. The BMWZentrum site seemed to provide a comprehensive guide to the 'World of BMW', by providing information on current exhibitions through interactive pages, displaying numerous pictures and supplying a detailed history of the design of the exhibits, whether it be of motorcycles, the future and the Hydrogen Car, or even motorsports. The museum is an excellant way for BMW to exhibit their products as works of art. BMW is clearly saying that the design of the BMW motorcycles and cars are art themselves and deserve a place within the art world. The Art of the motorcycle exhibitions also demonstrate how BMW has associated itself with high art by displaying its product in renowned art museums (such as the Louvre) around the world.
‘The goal of Cultural Communication is to build lasting, exclusive partnerships as well as sustainable, challenging and innovative projects.’
This statement posted on the the official BMW Group website clearly demonstrates BMW’s wish to be seen at the forefront of Arts sponsorship and Cultural Partnership. The statement can be found by using the navigation bar at the top of the site and then clicking on 'Responsiblity' and using the drop down list that directs you to the culture pages . The pages provide an overview of all BMW’s ‘International Cultural commitments’. Access to the commitments is provided by way of a clickable map or navigation bar. Thus providing one with the opportunity to see a list of projects that BMW has sponsored and is currently sponsoring around the globe today. All the sections are easily accessed through clickable links on the main page which is laid out clearly. Each section has a drop down menu of options to choose from that relate to the section heading. The section of the site that I found particularly relevant to my case study was the Culture pages. The pages demonstrate BMW’s relationship with the arts, not just fine arts, but, Performing arts, Architecture and Design and music as well. One of the links directed me to BMW Art Car Collection. Whilst the official site does not provide a great deal of information on the subject there are numerous other sites that do. The collection began in 1975 and now 15 artists have added their own artistic mark to BMW car. According to BMW 'The Art Cars reflect the cultural and historical development of art, design, and technology.'
Whilst BMW is promoting the artistic and design value of their Art Cars, it has not gone unoticed that this idea is a fantastic way of advertising their cars and promoting them through the ties with 'high art'. Links with prominant international artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, David Hockney and Andy Warhol, and the World Tour that has the cars displayed in established institutions such as the Louvre in Paris and the Guggenheim Museums only goes to further the recognition of BMW's innovative designs and adveritse them to the world.
‘Arty cars’- The BMW Art Car collection