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Singing, dancing, and spreading the love. Messages of hope and joy from around the world celebrate 50 years of BMW Group’s cultural engagement.

From Ólafur Elíasson, Cao Fei and Stefan Sagmeister to Jonas Kaufmann, Sir Simon Rattle, the Munich Philharmonic and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma to Esther Mahlangu and Victoria Siddall. The BMW Group is receiving manifold congratulatory messages from the international cultural world these days, all of them reflecting its long-term and diverse cultural commitment.

Cultural Issues

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Munich. From Ólafur Elíasson, Cao Fei and Stefan Sagmeister to Jonas Kaufmann, Sir Simon Rattle, the Munich Philharmonic and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma to Esther Mahlangu and Victoria Siddall. The BMW Group is receiving manifold congratulatory messages from the international cultural world these days, all of them reflecting its long-term and diverse cultural commitment. For 50 years and with over 100 initiatives in the fields of modern and contemporary art, classical music, jazz and sound as well as architecture and design, the BMW Group has been an integral part of culture on a global scale.

It all started with three large-scale paintings by German artist Gerhard Richter commissioned by Eberhard von Kuenheim, then chairman of the board at BMW AG, in 1971. Ever since the opening of the iconic four-cylinder headquarters building by Karl Schwanzer in 1973, the three works titled “Rot”, “Gelb” and “Blau” have been on display within the entrance hall of the company’s headquarters and became the nucleus for the social responsibility of a business enterprise which also engages in intercultural dialogue way beyond its core business.

“Culture is a vehicle for change, the artistic venture takes place at the intersection to the future. This is where BMW risks innovation as well. And while different in content, the underlying attitude is the same. Visualizing ways towards innovation is an integral part of BMW as much as it is of cultural creativity,” said Eberhard von Kuenheim, then chairman of the board at BMW AG, in 1984.

Maximilian Schöberl, Head of BMW Group Corporate and Intergovernmental Affairs and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Spielmotor München e.V. notes, “Especially in times of great societal change, the values of each individual continue to serve as a guideline for their actions. Corporate citizenship is precisely that: it acts as the guiding principle of a company’s value system. What can we return to the society which enables our business success? I am proud to say that the BMW Group, besides maintaining creative freedom at any time, has always continued to pursue an open exchange and intercultural dialogue and is therefore able to enable many long-term and sustainable partnerships.”

It is unique experiences and encounters that promote intercultural dialogue and reflect the principles and attitude of a company within the cultural world. With its broad and diverse network of partners, the cultural commitment of the BMW Group facilitates the creation of current narratives and helps to connect people all across the world – both physically and virtually. As a corporate citizen, the BMW Group believes in the importance of contributing to society in a sustainable way – in the past, present and in the future.

50 years of BMW Group Cultural Engagement – 50 years of encounters
Over five decades, the BMW Group has been engaged in partnerships with some of the most renowned cultural institutions worldwide based on mutual respect and curiosity which makes its cultural commitment a reliable actor in the cultural field. The BMW Group is grateful for a video campaign that shows the congratulatory messages arriving from around the world and will present them via social media throughout the year.

Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel, which should have celebrated its 50 years of existence last year, sent his congratulations and is looking forward to a double anniversary in 2021, “Now, since we are not going to count 2020, we can celebrate our 50 years together.” Artist Jeff Koons sent his video message including the words, “Animate – inanimate, inside – outside, body – vehicle, DNA – BMW.” Kate Bryan, Head of Collections Soho House, builds miniatures of the BMW Art Car Collection and races them, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s congratulatory message is ended by a seagull, whereas the one by Cao Fei closes with a paradisiac bird-like creature. Jazz musician Hannah Weiss sings “Congratulations” and artist Okuyama Hoseki stops his craftsmanship to send his best wishes from Japan.

The broad range of those participating includes important personalities from every cultural sector – from artists, musicians and designers to curators, gallery owners and museum directors as well as to collectors and race drivers.

BMW Group Cultural Engagement received congratulations from i.a.: Antoniu-Theodor Andreescu (musician), Richard Armstrong (Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum), Margarita Balanas (cellist), Anton Belov (Director, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art), Berlin Biennale, Geoff Blackwell (CEO and publisher, Blackwell & Ruth), Cassy Britton (DJ), Kate Bryan (Head of Collections, Soho House & Co), Astha Butail (artist), Alexandra Catiere (artist), Leelee Chan (artist), Maike Cruse (Director, Gallery Weekend Berlin), Simon Denny (artist), Chris Dercon (President, Réunion des musées nationaux et du Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées), Ken Done (artist), Ólafur Elíasson (artist), Augusto Farfus (race driver), Cao Fei (Artist), Simon Fox (CEO, Frieze), Alex Galmeanu (photographer), Francesca Gavin (writer and curator), Nadine Ghaffar (Founder and General Manager, Art D’Egypte), Venke and Rolf A. Hoff (Founders, KaviarFactory), India Art Fair, Jonas Kaufmann (opera singer), Jeff Koons (artist), Bose Krishnamachari (President, Kochi Biennale Foundation), Marcel Lazăr (musician), William Lim (architect and collector), Esther Mahlangu (artist), Mazaccio & Drowilal (collaborative artist duo), Trevyn and Julian McGowan (Founders, Southern Guild), Zubin Mehta (conductor), Dominique Meyer (CEO, Teatro alla Scala), Andra Mihai (artist), Paul Müller (Executive Director, Munich Philharmonic), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries), Hoseki Okuyama (artist), Shwetal A. Patel (Founding Member, Kochi-Muziris Biennale), Sabin Penea (musician), Madalina Ioana Petre (musician), Georgie Pope (Curator, Independent Collectors), Hervé Poulain (initiator and pilot of the BMW Art Car Collection), Nina Raftopoulo (Managing Director, Independent Collectors), Prateek and Priyanka Raja (Founders, Experimenter), Carlo Ratti (Founding Partner, CRA – Carlo Ratti Associati), Sir Simon Rattle (Music Director, London Symphony Orchestra), Magnus Resch (art market entrepreneur), Robin Rhode (artist), Stefan Sagmeister (designer), Philipp Schiepeck (musician), Matthias Schulz (Director, Staatsoper Unter den Linden), Victoria Siddall (Global Director, Frieze Fairs), Roman Sladek (musician), Marc Spiegler (Global Director, Art Basel), Julia Stoschek (Director, Julia Stoschek Foundation), András Szántó (Cultural Strategist), Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Christoph Wiesner (Director, Le Recontres d’Arles), Lu Yang (artist), Gary Yeh (Founder, ArtDrunk) and Samson Young (artist).

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