You’re probably heard of the BMW Art Cars, a series of classic models which were turned into works of art by renowned artists. They have been displayed all over the world (including Malaysia) since the first one was created in 1975.
Perhaps less well known is the fact that there are also art cars which are from another German brand – Porsche. Over the years, innovative artists have made Porsche models their ‘canvas’ and also made them works of art. Following the recent release of the 968 L’ART, here are some of the best examples of Porsche art cars, from Taycans to a 356 to a colourful array of 911 models.
968 L’ART by Arthur Kar
Embodying the connection between vehicles and fashion, this outstanding redesigned car – the brainchild of L’Art de L’Automobile’s founder Arthur Kar – transports a retro look to the modern era. Unveiled at Paris Fashion Week this year alongside a matching capsule collection, attendees saw the worlds of fashion, art and cars collide to mark the 30th anniversary of the 968. The 968 L’ART comes alive in Green Pearl, with the added mystique of appearing to be three other hues, depending on which angle you view it from. TAG Heuer created a matching chronograph to accompany this one-off car, while the roof was removed and Recaro seats were added, incorporating graphic leather in the centre panel that matches the exterior colour. A custom-designed audio system by BOSE was also installed and the headlights were elevated with chrome.
996 Swan by Chris Labrooy
Porsche offered Scottish digital artist Chris Labrooy the opportunity to transport one of his digital artworks into the real world for the first time. The result is the 996 Swan, which was designed for the anniversary ‘20 years of Porsche in China’. The 911 Type 996 was the first car sold in China two decades ago. The choice of ‘swan’ is because, in China, the swan stands for happiness.
911 Carrera by Nelson Makamo
Famed South African artist Nelson Makamo always knew he would own a Porsche, but what he didn’t expect was the manner in how it happened. Having fantasised since childhood about what it would feel like to hold the keys to one, it was an unexpected meeting with a modern-day example during a residency in Western Cape that reignited his Porsche dream and he would eventually own a Jet Black Metallic 911 Carrera. The painter ordered his first ever Porsche with the view to putting his mark on his most unusual canvas yet. Makamo’s Porsche art car saw him hand-paint a number of elements, from the rear bumper to the seat mouldings, door panel inserts and side mirror covers. Look closely enough and you’ll find three letters – ‘Mma’ – in the left door panel insert, which mean ‘mother’ in his native tongue. For Makamo, the art car in its entirety is a reflection of his success, the important people he’s met along the way and his hope that his work will spark the imagination of children all over the continent of Africa.
Taycan Art Car by Richard Phillips
This is the kind of artwork that makes watching paint dry a legitimately fun pastime, thanks to American artist Richard Phillips. His vision has applied an artful second skin for the all-electric sportscar which bloomed to life in Zurich. There, it was created live at a pop-up restaurant in December 2020. To create the final masterpiece, Phillips applied his 2010 painting, Queen of the Night, onto the body of a Porsche Taycan 4S, with the lush piece spreading its leafy and floral arrangement from the front bonnet to the rear. Earlier this year it was auctioned off for charity, with all proceeds being donated to a non-profit organisation which supports artists hit hard by the pandemic.
Taycan with Artwork by Dale Chihuly
Another electrifying artwork also sparked to life in 2021. The horticultural oasis of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay not only plays host to a diverse collection of over 1.5 million plants but became the temporary home for this floral Taycan. With Porsche as the official automotive partner for American glass artist Dale Chihuly’s ‘Glass in Bloom’ exhibition, audiences were exposed to the idea of sportscars beyond the simple need for speed. Wrapped in an unmissable livery from Chihuly’s Persians series – comprising ultra-bright flowers in a diverse palette – the car was more than a match for its foliage-laced surroundings. Sitting pretty on a pedestal, set against the futuristic backdrop of the SG50 Lattice – it provided a harmonious reflection of the future-forward DNA of the sustainable Taycan, all amid an organic green oasis.
Taycan Artcar by SUMO!
On the occasion of the opening of the Porsche Centre Roost, Porsche of Losch Luxembourg decided to create a unique artwork on the theme of ‘Future’ in collaboration with the renowned Luxembourg artist SUMO!. In close cooperation with the Porsche Centre team, the car was first completely disassembled. Then the individual parts were transported to an unknown location where SUMO! could begin its work over the next 5 months. The interior, the inside of the doors, the rims and the keys of the car were also painted.
Janis Joplin’s 356 C
Rock legend Janis Joplin sung ‘my friends all drive Porsches’, and she actually owned a number herself. She bought this car in 1968 in Dolphin Grey using it as an everyday car that fans would soon come to recognise as one of her closest companions. Describing the 1964 356 SC as having a colourful paint job is somewhat of an understatement. Janis paid her roadie, David Richards, $500 to portray ‘The History of the Universe’ on the car in almost every hue possible. It was a history that included images of her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Californian landscapes, the eye of God, Capricorn, skulls, mushrooms and much more. It became so synonymous with its owner that fans would leave notes to her under the windscreen wipers. When it was stolen in 1969, the thief tried to hide his crime by spray painting over the giveaway mural, only to be caught by police.
Tragically, Joplin died in 1970, just 2 years after purchasing the car. Her beloved Porsche eventually found its way into the hands of her siblings, with her brother restoring it to its original Dolphin Grey condition, as it had deteriorated. Then, in the 1990s, it was decided to return it to psychedelic glory, with her family commissioning artists Jana Mitchell and Amber Owen to replicate the original mural. After doing the rounds at museums for decades, it was finally put up for auction to support charities in their sister’s name. The price? An astonishing $1.76 million – breaking all records for the sale of any Porsche 356 at public auction.
911 RSR Le Mans by Richard Phillips
This 911 RSR is more than just a work of art. It also became the first Porsche art car to win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, when it took victory in the GTE Am class in 2019. Its existence is the result of a firm friendship between the artist, Richard Phillips, and the Porsche factory driver, Jorg Bergmeister – a relationship that had already resulted in Phillips designing a helmet for Bergmeister in 2013. It proved to be a stepping stone, 6 years later, to designing this Porsche art car, when the artist used some of his existing work to project an intricate 2D livery onto the car. The oversized details and bold contrasting colours meant there was no need to have a grandstand view to take in the full design – spectators could more than follow it from afar.
911 Fat Car NFT by Erwin Wurm
Austrian sculpture and painter Erwin Wurm is known for his larger-than-life artworks – his collection of Fat Sculptures has spanned the subject areas of houses and cars for 2 decades. On the 20th anniversary of his iconic Fat Car, in 2021, Wurm’s quirkiness came to the fore once more to breathe life into – literally his first NFT, entitled ‘Breathe in, breathe out’. The video showcases his interpretation of what it would look like if a 911 inhaled in and breathed out. Already well-known for his eccentric depictions of day-to-day life, and with a signature nudge and a wink as he takes a sideways look at consumer society, the disfigured style on show here is an example of Wurm’s inimitable style.