The Carchive: The E23 BMW 7 Series – In Art

It’s Friday night, and time for our (sometimes) weekly trip on the rusty, buckled monorail of discovery, into the bleak, architecturally suspect neighbourhood of the past to see what kind of souvenirs you can get from the dank, litter strewn terminus of oblivion. Welcome back to The Carchive.
Car brochures are great! I really like them, you may have noticed. The way they communicate the precise message the manufacturer intends, the way that they cunningly and calculatingly distort their information to express all the pluses and none of the minuses. They’re like the automotive equivalent of a party political broadcast.
But brochures are only the tip of the iceberg. There are other publicity oddities out there, too, such as what we have after the break. It’s the E23 7 Series, expressed in Art.

“Within [this] portfolio, specially commissioned by BMW, are seven independent assessments of seven aspects of the 7 Series Special Equipment Range”.
This is a really interesting piece which has lain in the Carchive for years, protected in the box it was originally mailed in. Its prior owner was associated with a newspaper local to my home town, so I assume this was targeted at members of the press, not regular showroom punters.
“In addition seven artists were commissioned to give in their own medium and style, their view of the 7 Series Special Equipment Range after first being asked to drive it.”
Well, let’s see what they had to say. In their own words, or paint. Or whatever.

Poul Webb, picture on the left:
“Handling the new 7 Series BMW, and then imagining it a Mediterranean setting, has been an unusual pleasure for me, its handling the experience of another kind of immediacy which is equally eloquent.” What?
Philip Castle, art on the right:
Didn’t actually comment. Just made a pretty picture which “embodies a very personal synthesis of futuristic technology, automobile styling and Hollywood glamour”

John Glashan, creator of the work on the left:
No actual comment nor proper explanation.
Glynn Boyd Harte, creator of the image on the right:
No actual comment, but the artwork is quite pretty.

Michael Bishop, painting on the left:
“I have tried to echo the quality and finish of the car in my treatment of the building, while hinting at the car’s presence in the painting. By associating the car in this way with an art environment, I wanted to imply that it is itself a work of art.” Very good, if a little arse-licky.
Robert Collins, HVAC image on the right:
“This car has its own beauty which is a product of high technology, luxury and latent power and energy. My painting sets a simple bunch of the commonest wild flowers as a contrast and compliment to these qualities”. Yeah, I’ll go along with that.
The seventh piece showed a lavish if simply drawn picnic in the foreground, ahead of a crude outline suggesting the BMW. No explanation was given.
I wonder how the artistic interpretations might have differed, were the artists not ‘commissioned’ by BMW?
(All images are of original manufacturer publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright in this case remains property of BMW. I wonder if anybody has a set of these 1985 prints and has actually used them to decorate their home?)

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4 responses to “The Carchive: The E23 BMW 7 Series – In Art”

  1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    terrible art for BMW near their pinnacle. Quite embarrassing, actually.

  2. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    E23s with their beautifully considered Paul Bracq styling and compact size have always been one of my favourite BMWs.
    Someone a few streets away from where I live had an ex-South African 745i version of one of these. The entire interior including the headlining was in buffalo leather and unlike the LHD Euro market 7451s, that had a turbo 12v version of BMW’s 3.5 l big six the RHD SA version came with the same 24v version fitted to the E28 and E34 M5 mated to a ZF auto,(as this one was) or to me more desirably, the five speed manual.
    I haven’t seen it for a while. I wonder what has happened to it?
    There was a racing version too.

  3. Monkey10is Avatar

    It is strange to see that BMW — a company that has commissioned some very credible artists for their ‘art car’ series, albeit with variable results — gathered such an uninspiring crowd of nobodies for this publication.
    Also a shame that a car that surely played a large part in cementing the image of ‘the ultimate driving machine’ is memorialised so insipidly.

  4. RobbieVT Avatar

    I used to daily drive an E23 with a 5spd and loved it for all the reasons you’ve already heard people say they love old BMWs for. I’ll definitely buy another E23, E24, E28, or E34 when/if I finish other projects.

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