Celebrating Five Years of Innovation with BMW Open WorkCurator Attilia Fattori Franchini and others reflect on the pioneering collaboration, which has seen a diverse range of commissions, including this year's installation by Madeline Hollander


For BMW Open Work at Frieze London 2021, American artist Madeline Hollander presents ‘Sunrise/Sunset’, an installation composed of recycled LED headlights from the BMW Group Recycling and Dismantling Centre, which are programmed to form a networked map choreographed by the sunsets and sunrises across the globe.

As Hedwig Solis Weinstein, BMW’s Head of Brand Cooperations, explains in this video, every Open Work commission is the product of a dialogue between artists and BMW experts. In his case, Hollander worked with  BMW’s sustainability department and investigated the automatic adaptive system of BMW headlights to produce her work - though as BMW Open Work curator Attilia Fattori Franchini explains, each artist has followed a different path in their response to BMW expertise: from exploring intellectual property to customisation.

2021 marks the fifth year of the BMW Open Work collaboration, while BMW celebrates 50 years of cultural engagement.

Idris Khan Wants You to Fall into the Frame


‘The new composition of the painting is very different for me, because I have never combined both music and words in one frame,’ says Idris Khan. Speaking from his studio in London, the artist talks about what it’s like to present the inaugural show at Sean Kelly Gallery’s new space in Los Angeles, his relationship to the city and the evolution of his practice.

In addition to the introduction of copper blue into his paintings and a new series of watercolours, Khan is working for the first time with 3D printing to make two bronze sculptures. Each surface captures a different piece of music, with the notes embedded into the bronze - so that the piece is almost like it is 'held, frozen in time,' he says. Inspired by the architectural choices made by Sean Kelly and architect for the new gallery space, Khan drew parallels between the landscape created by four windows and the fragmentation of space in his paintings.  While he is using two shades of colours in his works, the difference between the outer and inner frames is almost imperceivable, only distinguishable by the markings he has made on the surface – written words or musical notes.

When describing his show in Los Angeles, Khan makes references the city’s cinematic history and the intrinsic role the camera still plays. He wants viewers to stand in front of his large paintings and go into a meditative space; he wants, he says, viewers to 'almost fall into the frame.'

From Joan Armatrading to Mama Thornton: The Black Women Who Inspired Nikita Gale’s GuitarsAt Frieze London, Ray Aggs, Alpha Maid and Joviale activate the guitars named after five female identifying black musicians


For BMW Open Work at Frieze London 2022, American artist Nikita Gale presents ‘63/22’. Composed of five guitars designed in collaboration with BMW i7 designers, the commission looks back in history to an existing historical connection between cars and electric guitars. 1963, in fact, is the year car designer Ray Deitrich was invited by Gibson Guitars to create an offset guitar body, thus creating the Gibson Firebird.

Named after five female identifying Black musicians who changed the history of Rock and Roll but were perhaps overlooked (Minnie after Memphis Minnie, Tharpe after Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Lynn after Barbara Lynn, Joan after Joan Armstrong, Thorton after Big Mama Thorton), the guitars include parts and processes, as well as paint finishes sourced directly from the BMW i7 factory.

Activated on three occasions by guitarists Ray Aggs, Alpha Maid and Joviale over the course of Frieze London, the BMW lounge was transformed into a place of performance. These performances, Gale says, ‘are an extension of thinking about other bodies that play these guitars, and who these guitars are designed for.’

© James Maiki