This website and blog is devoted to art in the workplace and corporate art collecting — why art is important and how it can transform the workplace …. why companies build art collections…. what they buy and how art is featured and explored …. and new programs that are using art to transform and change the worplace and other non-traditional spaces.
I welcome your comments and any discussions that may develop from some of the subjects that I write about. I also welcome information on projects , and suggestions from guest contributors.
The blog and website is the result of over 35 years of documenting the phenomenon of corporate art collecting as Editor of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections. …… and the Directory has constantly changed and evolved during this time.
Changes over the years
The first directory in 1983 described 300 collections in the US. At its peak in the late 80s and 90s, there were over 1500 described primarily in North America. Today there are about 800 – 900 in the Directory, but easily over 1500 around the world, with great activity in Europe and Asia .
Since corporations are organic in nature, they continually adapt to external and internal influences that can include changes in national and global economies, political or legal realities, developing technologies, and even basic changes in society and the way things are done. Likewise, corporate art programs have been affected in the same way.
Future posts and articles will cover all the facets of business involvement in the arts — encompassing collecting art, sponsorship, collaborations with museums, and community programs. We will cover recent and current projects, as well as looking into some incredible collections, exploring some projects in planning, and investigate how some business sectors have been exploring art.
The term “corporate art” has become generic — and is generally used to describe art displayed in the workplace or business environment. But it can also refer to art in small businesses such as partnerships or sole proprietorships. So for the blog and website I’m using the term to include art in non-traditional or unexpected spaces – eg other than museums and art galleries. This can include hotels, cruise ships, hospitals, airports, factories, metro and transit systems, and collections managed by corporate foundations and corporate museums.
Financial services institutions (e.g., banks, investment firms and insurance companies) were among the first to initiate art collection programs, and they have remained a major force in the field of corporate art. Since the early twentieth century, other types of businesses have joined the ranks of collectors: hotels, real estate developers, railroad networks, healthcare facilities, manufacturers, and foundations.
Art has been known to change history. Can it change the workplace?
There has been a great deal written about corporate collecting over the years – and much of it has been biased, prejudiced, or simply incorrect. Many have written from their own vantage points – whether as artists, auction houses, corporate art curators, art critics, or art consultants.
But these hundreds of articles, essays, reviews, and promotional brochures have not looked at the overall picture and the motivating factors that have shaped it — and most writers have not taken into consideration the enormous influence that corporate art collecting has had on the art world, especially in North America. ……. And in particular, the great impact that art “at work” has had.
Art in the workplace has been part of a larger trend toward humanizing the working environment which reached its zenith in the 1970s and 1980s with the Human Relations movement…. and continues unabated.
So I will be exploring this world in future articles. I welcome you on the continuing journey !!
SR Howarth, Editor
You can reach the Editor via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shirley Reiff Howarth has been researching the field of art in corporations for over 35 years as the creator and editor of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections published bi-annually since 1983.
With an MA degree in Art History from Penn State University, she has documented the phenomenon of art collections in business and the workplace, and how this trend has changed and evolved during the past decades.
As a former museum director and curator for 15 years, in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida, she also has first-hand insight into the unique world of museums and their mission of education.
She continues to curate exhibitions that have traveled in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan, that have included Dufy by Design: the Fabric Designs of Raoul Dufy; C. Paul Jennewein, Sculptor; Marcel Breuer: Concrete and the Cross; A Theatre of Color: Costume Designs for the Black Theatre; and two current exhibitions: What Color is Your Dream with works from the Landfill Art Collection, and an upcoming exhibition in Japan during the 2020 Olympics about corporate art collections around the world. She was Adjunct Professor at St Leo College for seven years, teaching courses in the History of Photography, Arts Management and Art History.
One of the goals for the Corporate ArtBrief is to try to smooth the road for those that are pursuing creative paths in the visual arts. For about 40 years i have been providing information — first as a museum curator and director, then through college teaching, and now through publications and special reports. ……….And I want to continue to have the information open and available to all
So, I have a request for you …
If the majority of people who find the articles and special reports useful and would make a small donation, the future of the Corporate ArtBrief would be much more secure.
if you would like to contribute to ensuring that the site and information continues, and would like to help support it, please consider clicking the payment buttons below for $10, $25, or $50. For a $100 donation you will receive a copy of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections, the ebook, Silent Partner, and you will automatically receive all current and future special reports as they are issued
With thanks for considering this request
Shirley Reiff Howarth, Editor, The Corporate Art Brief