A BMW M Hybrid V8 race car will serve as the automaker's 20th art car, and the finished car will race at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of BMW's return to the French endurance race.

The artist will be Julie Mehretu, BMW announced last week at New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where an M Hybrid V8 with naked carbon-fiber bodywork was displayed as a preview of the project.

Mehretu, who was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1970 but has been based in New York City since 1999, will be given "total creative freedom" to design the next BMW art car, the automaker said.

Since 1975, BMW has commissioned famous artists to create art cars. The list, including Alexander Calder, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons, reads like the syllabus for an art history course. The tradition started when French racing driver Hervé Poulain and BMW Motorsport boss Jochen Neerpasch commissioned Calder to paint the livery for a 3.0 CSL Poulain was slated to drive in the 1975 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Julie Mehretu selected as artist for the 20th BMW art car.

Julie Mehretu selected as artist for the 20th BMW art car.

The Le Mans connection continues with the M Hybrid V8 art car. It will race at Le Mans in 2024 as part of BMW's entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). This will be BMW's first entry in the top prototype class of the French classic since 1999, when the V12 LMR secured the automaker's first and only overall victory.

The M Hybrid V8 was built to the LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) regulations of the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but rules overlap allows it to race in the WEC Hypercar class as well. BMW is already running two cars in the IMSA series with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, but hasn't confirmed a stateside appearance for the planned art car.