Is a Porsche the ultimate canvas? It certainly seems so for the innovative artists collected here. In light of the stunning 968 L’ART car’s release, we chronicle some of the finest examples of Porsche art cars – from 911 to Taycan to 356 – and discover that it takes a lot more than just a fresh lick of paint to turn them into landmark pieces of automotive art.
Porsche Vision Gran Turismo Art Car by Vexx
Known for his bold use of colour and standout cartoon style, artist Vexx painted the Porsche Vision Gran Turismo concept car – the first Porsche to be developed solely for the digital world – in his instantly recognisable style. Taking to the Porsche stage at Gamescom 2022 – the world’s leading fair for digital games culture – Vexx hand-painted every stroke on the only 1:1 scale, real-life model of the Vision GT in existence. It took him five intensive days of work, as fans watched on during the event. Vexx’s Vision GT also become a virtual ‘reality’ when it was made drivable as an unlockable car in Gran Turismo 7. “It was a unique opportunity to create a completely new design for Porsche,” says Vexx. “The look taps into the brand’s identity as well as gaming themes.” And the project didn’t stop there. Vexx’s design for the Vision GT is appearing in a limited edition run of 750 models cars and 40 exclusive car hoods as part of the Porsche collection.
Taycan Art Car by Sean Wotherspoon
You will find Sean Wotherspoon’s multi-coloured Taycan Cross Turismo at the intersection of sneaker design and electric sportscars. Colouring outside the lines, the American designer and artist developed the bespoke EV specially with Porsche to make his unique vision a vivid reality. Sean revealed the colour-block exterior at the 2022 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, following up with a Porsche Instagram Live to reveal the interior and answer audience questions.
The special relationship between Sean and Porsche was strengthened during visits to the Porsche Design Studio in Weissach throughout the process, giving him the opportunity to oversee the build. Deciding on the names of his Paint To Sample Plus colours held special significance, as he named them after his family members: Nash Blue, Sean Peach, Loretta Purple and Ashley Green. This scheme continues into the leather-free interior, where the hues combine with some of the innovative materials Sean employs in his streetwear designs. Cork is used in the dashboard and steering wheel, while Atacama Beige corduroy adds another distinctive feature to the roof lining, seat centres and sun visors. In fact, Sean’s use of corduroy is something of a nod to the long history of Porsche – the material was used in the seat centres of the iconic Porsche 356 as far back as 1952.
968 L’ART by L’Art de L’Automobile
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 in 2021 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 blazes to life in stunning Green Pearl, with the added mystique of appearing to be three other hues, depending on which angle you view it from. TAG Heuer has created a matching chronograph to go with it. Additionally, the roof has been removed and RECARO seats have been added, which incorporate graphic leather in the centre panel that matches the exterior colour. A custom-designed audio system by BOSE has also been installed and the headlights have been elevated with chrome. They are just a few of the examples of how Arthur used inspiration from the classic cars he and his team love to transform it into a contemporary statement.
Taycan Art Car by Richard Phillips
This is the kind of artwork that makes watching paint dry a legitimately fun pastime, thanks to acclaimed American artist Richard Phillips breathing his vision into this artful second skin for the all-electric Taycan. It bloomed to life in Zurich, created live at the Leuehof pop-up restaurant on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse 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, where the lush piece spreads its leafy and floral arrangement from the front hood to the rear. Inspired by the beauty of the natural environment in conjunction with the sweeping silhouette of the car, Phillips succeeded in giving this electric star a brush with nature. Earlier this year it was auctioned off, with all proceeds being donated to a non-profit organisation, Suisseculture Sociale, which supports artists hit hard by the pandemic.
Taycan Art Car 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 petal-adorned 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 sports cars beyond the stereotypical need for speed. Wrapped in an unmissable livery from Chihuly’s Persians series – comprising of 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 – an award-winning pavilion that shows what highly innovative and sustainable architecture of the future could look like – it provided a harmonious reflection of the future-forward DNA of the sustainable Porsche Taycan, all amid an organic green oasis.
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 his childhood about what it would feel like to hold the keys to one, it was a serendipitous acquaintance with a modern-day example of one during a residency in Western Cape that reignited his Porsche dream. It cemented his commitment to eventually own a Jet Black Metallic 911 Carrera. Makamo ordered his first ever Porsche with the view to putting his mark on his most unusual canvas yet. His Porsche art car saw him hand painting a number of its elements, from the rear bumper to seat mouldings, door panel inserts to side mirror covers. Look closely enough and you’ll find three letters – ‘Mma’ – in the left door panel insert, meaning ‘mother’ in his native tongue, Sepedi. For Makamo, the art car in its entirety is 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.
Janis Joplin’s 356 SC by Dave Richards
Rock legend Janis Joplin may have sung, “My friends all drive Porsches,” but she in fact owned quite a number herself. She bought this car in 1968 in Dolphin Grey (one of just nine colours available at the time) using it as an everyday driver, one 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, Dave 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. The result is a vehicle that screams to be seen. 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. Luckily, Richards was able to remove the offending paint with only minor damage to the artwork. Tragically, Joplin died in 1970 at the age of 27, just two years after purchasing the car. Her beloved Porsche eventually found its way into the hands of her siblings, with her brother Michael 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 earlier 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. For that you get one of the original – in more ways than one – Porsche art cars.
Crystal-eroded 911 by Daniel Arsham
Contemporary visual artist Daniel Arsham is known for breathing life into inanimate objects and playing with deconstructed futurism. Sketching pictures of Porsche cars since childhood, creating this one-off, crystal-eroded 911 (992) in 2019 interlaced some of his own story with that of the Porsche brand. The dystopian look was achieved by embedding crystals into the car’s body, creating a vehicle that wouldn’t be out of place if you happened to stumble across it in a post-apocalyptic world. The drivable piece was displayed at Selfridges in London in 2019 before setting off on a tour of Asia. With contemporary objects subject to transience, says Arsham, this unique piece evokes a sense of deterioration juxtaposed with decadence.
911 RSR Le Mans by Richard Phillips
This Porsche 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 won the GTE Am class in 2019. Its existence is the result of a firm friendship between artist, Richard Phillips, and Porsche factory driver, Jörg Bergmeister, which had already seen Richard design a helmet in 2013. It proved to be a stepping stone, six 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 (and it, them, thanks to the pair of ‘eyes’ painted on its flank). This 911 RSR is one for both the art and history books.
1970 911 S by Ornamental Conifer
Cars, clothes, even crockery – British-born, Californian-based artist Nico Sclater (aka Ornamental Conifer) has wonderful freehand typography for them all. And of all those he has painted on, Porsche cars are up there with the most noteworthy. Ornamental Conifer’s artwork can be recognised through his signature combination of Pop Art-esque signwriting, shot through with humour, and combined with a clever use of word play and turns of phrase (phrases referred to as ‘Coniferisms’ by the man himself). A trio of Porsche cars have been graced with his style to date: a 1977 911 rebuilt to resemble a 1974 Carrera 3.0 RS, a 935 showcased at Las Vegas’ SEMA Auto Show, and this, the very first Ornamental Conifer Porsche art car. Designed for a client in Texas, the message on this 911 S is a bold and free one. ‘Stay forever far out’.
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 span the subject areas of houses and cars for two decades. On the landmark of 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 out. Already well-known for his eccentric depictions of everyday 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.
911 Carrera type 996 by Biggibilla
This 911 Carrera (996) art car was painstakingly hand-painted in 1998 at the Porsche Centre Melbourne showroom by Indigenous Australian artist, Graham J Rennie (aka Biggibilla). It was created to celebrate 50 years since the first vehicle that bore the Porsche name – the aluminium prototype known as ‘No 1’ – and is adorned with Australian animals like the duck-billed platypus.
When it comes to art cars, this list proves you can’t have too much of a good thing, with more than enough space for all artists and designers who want to reinvent the norm and subvert even the unusual. Here’s to the past, present, and future of Porsche art cars that instil inspiration and fuel the passionate fires of the worlds of art and automotive.
Taycan Art Car by SUMO!
To mark the opening of the new Porsche Centre Roost in Luxembourg, contemporary artist SUMO! (Christian Pearson) – known for his work on the fuselage of two national aircrafts – was offered a different kind of artistic challenge. Given free rein to adorn the electric Porsche Taycan with his own style, the design – based around the theme of 'future' – was painted directly onto the vehicle's bodywork, making it the very first of its kind. In order to complete the work, the car was first completely dismantled, sanded and then transported to an undisclosed location where SUMO! could make his art car a bold reality.
964 Art Car by Hanna
Artist and industrial designer Hanna Schönwald lives and breathes classic Porsche. For her, the 964 embodies the 911 series' transition from the classic to the modern sportscar in terms of technology and design. Inspired by the natural reflections in the paint, she set out to transfer her unique style onto the body of the car. Everything starts as a sketch for Hanna, as this leaves space for imagination to aid her artwork's evolution. The first drafts of the art car were carried out on fiberglass sculptures, so she could emphasise the shape of the car through hand-painted lines, experimenting with light hitting the car at different angles. After these model studies, it was time to paint on the real thing, with the stunning results as bold as the story of the 964 itself.