Andy Warhol’s rarely seen Mercedes paintings will divide opinion – again

by Jon Burgess
20 July 2022 2 min read
Andy Warhol’s rarely seen Mercedes paintings will divide opinion – again
© 2022 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Artists and cars have never had the best of relationships, but plenty have dabbled, and plenty of onlookers have been divided over whether a painting of a car, or indeed actually painting a car or working with it in a sculptural context, can ever be considered true art.

“Business artist” and “pop art” icon Andy Warhol, however, went further than most artists when it comes to having a relationship with the car. Many can recall the BMW M1 he was given in 1979, alongside the likes of Roy Liechenstein and Jeff Koons – but fewer remember the private commission from art dealer, Hans Meyer,  to celebrate the centenary of the Benz Patent Motor Wagen, in 1986.

How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.
Get a quote
The 1970 C111 helped Mercedes establish diesel power. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

The collection that resulted, “Cars”, ordered by Mercedes itself after it saw that first work – of a 300SL “Gullwing”, produced from a photograph – was intended to chronicle the significant models throughout its history. Though it remained unfinished at the time of Warhol’s death, Mercedes kept the 36 silkscreen prints and 13 drawings of eight iconic Benzes, displaying the whole collection on rare occasions. Warhol had planned to cover 20 models through 80 pieces of art.

Selected works from “Cars” are to be shown at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles from July 23, including the W125 “Silver Arrow” Grand Prix Car, as driven by Bernd Rosemeyer.
Other models comprised the 35hp of 1901, and the C111 supercar from which a record breaking diesel prototype was developed.

It’s been more than a decade since “Cars” has been seen in any capacity; Mercedes kept the works as part of its corporate art collection, and has displayed them three times in total: once in Tübingen, Germany, in 1988, partially in Milton Keynes, England, in 2001, and in full at the Albertina in Vienna, Austria, nine years later.

While Warhol was criticised by his peers, “Cars” was a notable high point in automotive art cross-overs; while worthy, the Citroën Xsara Picasso never quite left the same legacy.

If you happen to be in LA this month, this is a rare opportunity to see some of Warhol’s most divisive work.

Read more

Peel Trident offers Jetsons style… for £120,000
What’s all this then? Ex-undercover police Range Rover Commercial for sale
Will Paul Walker’s 1973 Porsche 911 RS sale smash records?

You may also like

BMW Art Car mehretu detail
Artist Julie Mehretu’s BMW Art Car Journey
BMW Le Mans art car collaboration front three quarter
BMW Art Car #20: Julie Mehretu’s M Hybrid V8 Le Mans Racer
Artist Frank Stella, Contributor to BMW's Art Car Project, Dies at 87
Artist Frank Stella, Contributor to BMW's Art Car Project, Dies at 87
A story about

Your biweekly dose of car news from Hagerty in your inbox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on this topic
Hagerty Newsletter
Get your weekly dose of car news from Hagerty UK in your inbox

Thanks for signing up!

Your request will be handled as soon as possible