A Rolls-Royce motor car marries contemporary vision and skilled craftsmanship with excellence in design and engineering. Each commission is a work of art. To explore our shared ethos with the art world, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme was born. Art talks, in-situ commissions and partnerships – the Programme enables artists to realise innovative projects, explore new ideas and engage with the public.
Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds is a video installation commissioned by Rolls-Royce. Filmed in Iceland’s remote glacial ice caves, the work was inspired by a letter written by the Brazilian modernist architect and designer, Lina Bo Bardi.
Within the film, the artist explores Bardi’s love of semi-precious stones. He incorporates the Rolls-Royce iconic Spirit of Ecstasy, led by the character actress Vanessa Myrie as a ‘spirit guide’ – taking the viewer on a journey from one landscape to another. Isaac’s installation was debuted privately at the Venice Biennale and made its first public appearance at Art Basel in 2015.
Ana Maria Tavares
Brazilian artist Ana Maria Tavares’ commission for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Deviating Utopias, is an installation that creates a virtual environment. It depicts a blend of technology and craftsmanship, industrial and organic materials, and speed and silence.
Ana Maria Tavares said: “During my recent visit to the Home of Rolls-Royce, I was struck by the way it has a productive function while being like a capsule that suspends time. These elements inspired me to present a work for Rolls-Royce as a virtual immersive environment, creating a dream journey to bridge the rational and organic worldviews.” The work was presented during Berlin Gallery Weekend in 2015.
Morgan Wong’s ambitious commission Untitled – Expressway combines abstract video, archive materials and a narration by a fictional character. He seeks to remind his audience that the process of transformation – and the speed at which it occurs – can deviate from humanity.
The footage was captured while cruising on a route connecting the present heart of Hong Kong to a new town in the city’s prehistoric history. The Spirit of Ecstasy, which adorns each Rolls-Royce motor car, was the main inspiration for the film. As the journey unfolds, the iconic emblem seems to observe the changes in the Hong Kong landscape.
Displayed as a video projection – and also on a screen in the rear compartment of a Rolls-Royce motor car – the audience were able to experience a virtual voyage in an intimate and timeless way. The video was also presented at the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Hong Kong showroom.
Manal Al Dowayan
Manal Al Dowayan is the Saudi Arabian artist behind I Had No Wings. Containing four wall-sized screens of projected footage combined with sound, the video immersed viewers within its unique sensory experience.
Describing the piece, Al Dowayan said: “The images in this video were collected from the rear compartment of a car driving me around the streets of a city in Saudi Arabia. It addresses the physical and ethereal states of being captured in a moment where you float between the present and future – where many find themselves when the environment surrounding them is in a state of negation.”
The commission was presented during Art Dubai 2015. The cars the artist drew inspiration from were in situ at this particular showing, for audiences to reflect upon and to forge their own creative connections with.
Carlos Rolon’s neon sculpture, Untitled (Opulence), is inspired by the traditional Rolls-Royce Pantheon grille and the Spirit of Ecstasy. Measuring 3 by 3.5 metres, this installation explores movement, lines and the interaction of colour – together with changes of mood and perception.
By juxtaposing the use of neon with a mandala (circle) pattern, the work combines the language of post-minimalism, Pop Art and abstraction. Meditative and therapeutic, it creates a trance-like effect for the viewer.
Untitled (Opulence) appeals to the senses and projects into the future, while telling the story of mythical beauty, energy and ecstasy. The sculpture was unveiled during Art Stage Singapore in January 2015.
Cipher of L. is a Rolls-Royce commission and installation by Berlin-based artist Angela Bulloch. She is known for her interest in systems, patterns and rules – and the creative territory that lies between mathematics and aesthetics.
Cipher of L. is in the form of a ‘pixel box’ that mimics the proportions of Rolls-Royce Phantom and explores the relationship between art, technology and craftsmanship. As the panels of the box change colour, they emit coloured light across the other motor cars in the Rolls-Royce showroom – each an individually commissioned piece of automotive art.
The work was unveiled in October 2014 at the marque’s London showroom in Berkeley Square – on display for three weeks and coinciding with the city’s Frieze Art Fair.
Continue your journey
Stones Against Diamonds
Isaac Julien’s Stones Against Diamonds video installation was commissioned as part of the Rolls-Royce Art Programme and made its debut at the Venice Biennale in 2015, before being shown to the public during Art Basel. Isaac Julien shares the inspiration behind his piece.