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Carlotta Mazzoli 21 September 2023
min Read25 November 2022
What is your first thought when you think about going to the bank? Or a big company office? I am sure that it is not connected to art at all. You imagine calls, queues, paperwork… But did you know that some banking companies have amazing art collections? They really could become museum competitors someday!
Let us open the door to the corporate art collections for you!
Maybe, for some companies, a corporate art collection is just nice office decoration. And, of course, let’s not forget that art is a great investment, both money and prestige wise. But the motto of the most corporate art collections is: we do it for the people. In respect of employees – to let them work in an artistic atmosphere which, thanks to that, will stimulate them to produce even greater results. For clients – to win their loyalty. And for young artists? Well, corporate art collections mostly consist of contemporary art. And for everyone else? Most companies organize exhibitions and lend their art to museums all around the world.
Since 1979, Deutsche Bank has been regularly replenishing its corporate collection under the slogan “Art Works”. The company owns more than 57,000 objects, about 90 percent of them by aspiring young authors. The average price varies in the range of € 1,500-2,500.
Until 2019, Gerhard Richter’s colossal Abstract Painting (Faust) greeted visitors to the Wall Street office of Deutsche Bank; it could also be seen from the street through tinted glass. But, sadly, it was removed in 2019 and said to have been replaced by a newer artwork.
Every floor of Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in New York features a variety of art. One floor is dedicated to photographs; another is decorated with graphic works by sculptors, and a third is all about the sculptures. The exhibition on the ground floor is available not only to employees, but also to bank customers.
UBS bankers already have 35,000 works of modern and contemporary art at their disposal. When buying, preference is given to relatively little-known young artists as their noble philosophy is to support living artists at the start of their career. In addition, the collection is constantly expanding through the purchase of works of artists from those countries where the bank’s holdings are represented.
The bank leases and donates selected works from its collection to such well-known museums as MoMA and has a UBS Art Gallery in New York. UBS is also an official sponsor of Art Basel. But most of the collection decorates the bank’s worldwide branches and is available only to its employees. Lucky them!
The first bank of the UniCredit group appeared in 1473. Therefore, the collection also has a long history. This corporate art collection contains more than 60,000 pieces, including items found during excavations.
The collection combines tradition and innovation; it contains not only outstanding works of art, tested by time, but also contemporary experimental work.
UniCredit often organizes exhibitions and has presented its collection in Italy and other European countries. In 2019, UniCredit announced that it was to sell some pieces of the collection to help fund European social initiatives.
It all started with the Rockefellers. In 1959, David Rockefeller, a famous American banker, created a first-ever art purchasing program called “Art at Work” at the Chase Manhattan Bank. As a result, he is seen as the founding father of corporate collections: even art critics turned to him for advice. Today the company has merged with JPMorgan Chase holding and its art comprises a total of six corporate art collections. You can see contemporary art works in 450 of their offices around the world.
A group of Microsoft employees began collecting art in 1987. Now this corporate collection comprises almost 5,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glass works and multimedia. These works have been distributed in 180 offices of the company around the world.
Many artworks in Microsoft art collection look super-technological (no surprise there!) and feature pixels. In the painting below, Gordon Cheung, a young artist from London, turns to Dutch still life paintings combining history and the latest perks of civilization.
According to the company website, “Microsoft believes that displaying art in the workplace creates an inspiring work environment.” And we could not agree more! Maybe after reading this article we should all pitch this idea to our current bosses.
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