Renault Group

Renault Group extends its Art Collection to new contemporary artists

28 June 2024
4 min
collection d arts renault group
The Renault Group Art Collection is more than 50 years old. An avant-garde story started in 1967 by inviting contemporary artists into the heart of the company. The objective? To build bridges between the automotive industry and contemporary art. Today, Renault Group takes it one step further with the creation of the Renault Endowment Fund for Art and Culture to secure and protect the existing collection, and to enhance it with new contemporary artists.
One of the first creations was born through a collaboration with the British street artist Dan Rawlings and the Renault 5 E-Tech electric. Go behind the scenes to discover this sculptor’s meticulous metallic interlacing technique at the heart of this unique work of art.
by Renault Group

When art comes to an industrial site: Dan Rawlings reinterprets the R5 myth in Douai

On May 21st, a newcomer to the Manufacture of Douai, Ampere ElectriCity, walked through the doors of a workshop and discovered a new look. That of an iconic car reinvented by Renault: Renault 5 E-Tech electric. This atypical collaborator is Dan Rawlings, the famous British artist known for his delicate work of metal lace cutouts inspired by nature.

For several weeks, the artist worked in residence in Douai to create two unpublished poetic works from Renault 5 E-Tech electric and a historic Renault 5. Preparatory drawings, hand-made plasma cuts, painting and reassembly of the elements of the vehicle, are many of the meticulous steps from which emotion can spring. And what a burst of emotion!

All the works of Dan Rawlings have one thing in common: nature. Inspired by the vegetation around the industrial site of Douai, the artist composed the metal cutting structure of "his" Renault 5 E-Tech electric in the form of intertwined brambles.

This is my first time working with a new vehicle model. I had never disassembled an electric vehicle before or worked in an industrial site like Douai.
A real challenge! I found it particularly interesting to make these symbolic brambles run around the structure of the car, as if nature took back its rights on matter in an optimistic impulse and that we had to protect it.
I really appreciated the help of the teams on site. A unique experience that I will remember for a long time.

Dan Rawlings

A unique poetic work that unites cars and nature

After a stage of preparatory drawings on the surfaces of the bare body of the vehicle, Dan Rawlings carved with plasma a whole lace of vegetable shapes in the doors, hood and trunk. A poetic evocation that amazed the eyes of Douai’s collaborators alongside the artist.

As Anthony Ladiray, Bodyshop production manager at Ampere ElectriCity explains, “The artist’s studio was set up in the Bodyshop Department, right next to the production line of our Renault 5 E-Tech electric. He was made a body on which he could draw the patterns before sculpting them.”

Once the sculptures are finished, a short trip to the painting studio to add the specific yellow hue and highlight the cut patterns. A unique experience for both the artist and the employees of Douai.

It is not often that a vehicle produced in Douai is transformed by an artist. To be able to paint the car after the cutouts made by Dan Rawlings in the different rooms, it was necessary to bring this new vehicle into our retouching paintshop.
The collaboration with the artist was great. We put him in the best conditions to work on his art.
The leaves and brambles on the body make me think of nature. An electric vehicle with an eco-friendly design!
This gives a good image of our Renault 5 -Tech electric of which we are already very proud.

Rémi Mollet
paintshop senior operator at Ampere ElectriCity - Douai

Finally, the various pieces of the metal puzzle were put together with the help of the Assembly line teams, both intrigued and seduced by the metamorphosis of the vehicle they usually produce a few meters away. A new birth for this Renault 5 E-Tech electric and a great pride for the employees of Douai around this artist who knew exactly how to reinterpret their little gem.

Once the metal parts were carved, the running gear, motor and battery, electrical cables, dashboard, seats were reassembled. There was a lot of collective work and everyone enjoyed it. The result is impressive, we had never seen this before. It’s a first time in Douai, and it is a big success. To rebuild a Renault 5 is already emblematic. This will be my next vehicle, by the way. But making a work of art out of this vehicle is really beautiful!

Mohamed Medjir
Assembly Line team Leader at ElectriCity - Douai

«Bringing contemporary art and artists into the company»

First time for an artist at the heart of a factory? Well, no, because Renault’s relationship with Art dates back nearly 100 years. «This approach was truly pioneering and reflected the avant-garde and bold vision that is still in Renault’s DNA today», recalls Catherine Gros, VP Art Heritage & Patronage.

Let’s go back a few decades. Since 1967, Renault has maintained a privileged link in the world of the French automotive industry with illustrious contemporary artists.

Under the leadership of Pierre Dreyfus, CEO of Renault, Claude Renard, manager in charge of staff relations, created in 1967 a new patronage service entitled «Research, art and industry». The objective of this service is not only to acquire works to diversify investments, but really to bring contemporary art and artists into the company. With this initiative, the artist leaves his studio to join a manufacturing workshop and explore new creative horizons, benefit from technical advice, access equipment, exchange with operators. Renault’s employees are exposed to a world that they do not normally have access to, and this meeting acts as a catalyst, feeding the innovation that is at the heart of the company.

catherine gros

Today, we want to continue our support for contemporary art with the ambition of building a unique and original collection of Street art, an art close to the greatest number.

Catherine Gros
VP Art Heritage & Patronage

The 500-piece Renault art collection bears witness to the collaboration between Renault and contemporary artists such as Erró, Vasarely, Dubuffet and Tinguely or Robert Doisneau. The Renault Foundation, manager of this collection between end of 2020 till end of 2023, has carried out an important work in recent years, starting with a complete inventory of the works and their state of conservation. This metamorphosis of the Collection was necessary to prepare the creation of a new endowment fund for art and culture.

«The art fund will allow us to stimulate a new dynamic» explains Catherine Gros. “In the spirit of the pioneering and avant-garde works that made up the collection from the beginning, we decided to reinvest in Street art. A movement that puts art on the streets naturally echoes our profession as a popular car manufacturer. A symbol of boldness and creativity, looking to the future.” This new chapter was initiated in 2023 with the «Men in white» by Jérôme Mesnager (read the article).

and was therefore continued with the project of Dan Rawlings who reconnects with the vision of art «being done» in the group’s manufacturing workshops. «The ambition today is to recall our historical link between art and industry and to put this collection in motion by making it visible to the greatest number» concludes Catherine Gros.

The artwork of Dan Rawlings around Renault 5 E-Tech electric is visible at MAISON5, Renault’s ephemeral experience store dedicated to the launch of the vehicle, in the heart of Paris, from June 15 to July 7. Some of Erró’s works around the historic R5 during the 80’s are also on display.

Dan Rawlings: Street art creator of metal lace

Born in 1979, Dan Rawlings is a self-taught English artist. He creates works from industrial metal objects that he transforms into poetic works. Whether it is a tanker, a grain silo, an airplane or a simple car, it cuts by hand plant and floral motifs in the material and shows nature regain its rights, with a simple and symbolic language.


Renault and art: a century of history

Renault's art collection, which begun in the 1930s, notably with the full time employment of photographer Robert Doisneau (1912-1994), reflects both its era and the company's history. It includes many works by Hungarian-born painter Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) - who redesigned the Renault logo in 1972 - as well as by Nouveaux Réalistes sculptors such as Arman (1928-2005) and Jean Tinguely (1925-1991), who worked directly in the workshops, with the company's teams and materials. And of course Erró, one of the major representatives of the Narrative Figuration, who had already taken the historic Renault 5 as his model.

Renault Art collections is today:

  • More than 300 works for the artistic fund (paintings, sculptures, accumulation...)
  • 200 photos works in the photographic fund (Robert Doisneau, Robert Franck and Franck Riboud).
  • Loans to international exhibitions.
  • Return of artists in residence (like Dan Rawlings).
  • The development of the fund for contemporary art, including urban art.
  • New partnerships to be developed.

Because a short video is worth a thousand words, (re)discover the unique relationship forged over the years between the Group and the art world viewing these images:


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