81 Year Old Partners with BMW to Design Car
Last year, 81 year old South African artist, Esther Mahlangu, teamed up with German car manufacturer, BMW, to design a car and this wasn’t her first time working with BMW nor partnering with a global brand. Twenty five years ago, Esther Mahlangu created an iconic “African Art Car” for BMW which was painted with typical motifs of her tribe, the Ndebele tribe. Then, she teamed up with them again on a new project – a BMW Individual 7 Series which was unveiled at last year’s Frieze Fair in London with the car going up for auction at the same event. She is the first non-Western person and female to design one of these art cars and in doing so, has joined the ranks of BMW Art Car creators including Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Frank Stella.
Esther Mahlangu has also collaborated with various global brands including Belvedere, Fiat and British Airways. In August of last year, she unveiled a partnership with Belvedere, teaming up with the beverage company for their RED campaign, in the fight against AIDS. Working with Swedish sneaker brand Eytys, she also created a special pair of sneakers embroidered with her art work. And back in 1997, British Airways even featured her paint work on the tails of their planes.
Born in the Mpumalanga province in 1935, Esther Mahlangu’s unique artwork is rooted in Ndebele tradition, where women in the tribe decorate the walls of houses in vibrant patterns and colors. She was taught the skill of mural painting by her mother and grandmother, following a local tradition through which this type of painting technique is handed down through the generations only by women. At age 10, she began applying the typical crafts of her South Ndebele community on canvases of all sizes and shapes. The rest is history.
Esther Mahlangu has exhibited at museums and institutions all around the world. As an artist in residence, she was commissioned in 2014 by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to create two large works of art.She is also one of the few African artists whose art is often exhibited on the international scene and her works are in many Western museums as well as in major private collections including that of The Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC) of Jean Pigozzi