“Muse”: the source that inspires Rolls-Royce and Artists

 March 23, 2020

Rolls-Royce Art Programme
Rolls-Royce Art Programme. Image courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

The muse inspires artists and also a car company, Rolls- Royce Motor Cars to be the channel for new insights into the way that artists see and think. Rolls-Royce with its new vision for its Art Programme, “Muse” acts as the catalyst for artists, motivating them to be inspired and to find their own muse, their source for new and innovative visions.

Including artists into the process of innovation, engineering mastery and high class manufacturing and design is a creative way to realize aesthetics and long-lasting values. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has managed to do this since 2014, its founding of the Rolls-Royce Art Programme. Since its inception, it has supported numerous extraordinary commissions. Last year in 2019, with the aim to strengthen its relationship with art, Rolls-Royce launched “Muse”, a new vision for its Art Programme.

Naming the Art Programme “Muse” was a fitting choice by Rolls-Royce. It reflects source and power of inspiration for artists and for Rolls-Royce itself. It can also be seen as a motivating source for artists to think deeply around specific themes.

The Art Programme includes two new initiatives - the Dream Commission and the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge, aimed at inspiring greatness and fostering creativity. The Dream Commission focuses on the support of moving image artworks, a medium that was chosen as it shares an affinity with Rolls-Royce’s vision of pushing technical and conceptual boundaries“ explains Jessica Persson-Conway, manager of “Muse”.

Within the Dream Commission, works produced by the selected artists will investigate a particular aesthetic territory to conjure an alternative sensory universe and journey into the world of the sublime. Celebrating the latest innovations in the field of moving image, works will be from any medium within that category including experimental film, video, animation, immersive and participatory installations, and content presented in non-screen formats, such as augmented and virtual reality.

Henrik Wilhelmsmeyer
Henrik Wilhelmsmeyer, Director of Sales and Brand at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, at the launch of Muse, the new vision for the Rolls-Royce Art Programme. Image courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Photo by Adam Warner.
Isaac Julien
Isaac Julien at the launch of Muse, the new vision for the Rolls-Royce Art Programme. Image courtesy Rolls- Royce Motor Cars. Photo by Adam Warner.

Since its inception five years ago, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme has brought many new artworks to fruition around the world.

As we look to the future, Muse will enable us to continue this legacy with a vision to expand the horizon of moving image and ignite a dialogue with some of the most exciting creative visionaries of our time. In doing so, we will inspire great works that leave a lasting mark on our culture.

- Torsten Müller-Ötvös
Chief Executive of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Alongside the Dream Commission, the biennial initiative Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge will invite creative visionaries to re-imagine the icon of Rolls-Royce, the sculptural figurine, which has been the muse of Rolls- Royce, gracing the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce motor car for over a century.

With the Spirit of Ecstasy as the point of reference, participants will be encouraged to push the limits of a material, selected each time by Rolls-Royce, to create objects that surprise and motivate to inspire. The material that the Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge will start with, is textile. Three invitees from around the world will be selected from amongst a range of creative industries, including architecture, art, fashion design, industrial design and crafts. The three participants each will visit and exchange creative thoughts, experiences, ideas with craftspeople and artisans at the Home of Rolls-Royce, as their muse for their own creations.

YANG FUDONG, Moving Mountains, 2016 Commissioned by the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

When asked about the role that art and culture has in the visions and aims of Rolls-Royce, Persson-Conway describes it as an aspect that has always been there since the very beginning.

Rolls-Royce has always fostered a connection with arts and culture, collaborating with artists that share an affinity with the marque. Rolls-Royce’s vision is to inspire greatness, and in choosing to work with emerging and mid-career artists for Muse, Rolls-Royce leads the way in developing the language of tomorrow’s art.

YANG FUDONG, Moving Mountains, 2016 Commissioned by the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Adding to its own aesthetic, innovation and relationship with art, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars shows a different approach to the way industries - like the car industry - can realize lasting values beyond their products. Through this approach the marque not only adds to its own values but also to the arts in general, by nurturing its appreciation for it and by valuing artistic and creative talents.

The aim of Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme is to leave a legacy of exceptional artistic achievements. Through the Programme’s two initiatives, the marque hopes to nurture emerging talent and enable artists and creatives to realize their creative visions” explains further Persson- Conway.

TOMÁS SARACENO Hybrid Dark solitary semi-social Cluster BD–15 3966 built by: a duet of Nephila edulis - six weeks, a quintet of Cyrtophora citricola -eight weeks, rotated 180°, (detail), 2018. Courtesy of the artist; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. Photography © Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2018. Supported by the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

Being part of such creative teams and businesses can be an aim for many artists to strive for. However, instead of seeing this as an end goal, the start of such collaboration can happen as a process of first experimenting and challenging possibilities within one’s own artistic practice.

Based on the advice of Persson-Conway, Rolls-Royce as an innovative team “would encourage artists to push the boundaries of what is possible, and to always work towards achieving the best that they can achieve”.

ISAAC JULIEN Under Opaline Blue (Stones Against Diamonds), 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice. Commissioned by the Rolls-Royce Art Programme

This is how it happened for Refik Anadol, media artist, who by pushing the boundaries and combining it with aesthetics, gave birth to a unique work of digital art for Muse. He used data sets relating to the colour of every Rolls-Royce motor car created at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, England, over the last 10 years. The artwork, entitled “Art of Perfection: Data Painting”, consists of an LED “canvas”, conveying a unique data painting derived from data captured at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ Surface Finish Centre.

Anadol commented on his vision and creation in the following way:

As an artist who utilises data as pigment, I’m very excited that Rolls-Royce is sharing their complex computational painting data with me to use as the raw material for this artwork. This project will be very collaborative as there is a direct correlation between Rolls-Royce’s process and mine, in that we harness machines and machine intelligence to help actualise our vision of beauty.

The launch of Muse
The launch of Muse, the new vision for the Rolls- Royce Art Programme. Image courtesy Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Photo by Adam Warner

The muse of “Muse” are the artists themselves, who in turn find inspiration in Rolls-Royce’s years of inspirational creations. This initiative, like so many of its other Art Programmes, is an exceptional way to bring creativity together without boundaries and by pushing those very boundaries, bringing a human and aesthetical touch to other areas, not dedicated exclusively to art.

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