Here is our selection of this year’s 18 best Corporate Art Programs around the world.
From an analysis of the 700+ programs described in the latest edition of the 2017 International Directory of Corporate Art Collections . . .
Our 2017 selection is based on how the corporate art program is managed – how the art is being exhibited and featured, if it is accessible for viewing, are there education programs for employees and how active is the participation. In other words, is the art program part of the fabric of the company’s mission and has the art become part of the employee’s lives.
There are over 700 art programs that are described in the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections, and many include works of works of unparalleled rarity or importance in the history of art …… But often these are installed in private museums or viewing areas. The collection may be a source of pride and prestige for the company, but it does little to affect the people working in the company and their environment, and has virtually no impact on the workplace or community. Our selection is based on the way the art programs have been integrated and the art is viewed.
Because in the final analysis, that is the purpose of fine art – to be seen and appreciated — not just held as an investment, hidden away in board rooms and blocked from being viewed except by a handful of people. Art is a global language that builds bridges between people, and stimulates creative and critical thinking. It awakens the imagination and intellect, and allows employees to better communicate with each other with new insights and ideas. It goes beyond the pictorial, and truly challenges the mind.
So our list of the 18 Best are those art programs that have been supporting the creation and appreciation of art in the workplace and in the community – whether it is regional, national or worldwide. The companies selected have successfully accomplished this goal. They have made art a part of the lives of those that work there, as well as those that visit the company and through its integration into and support of the surrounding community.
Some of the criteria that have been considered in our selection are the following:
Employees: can employees relate to the collection and are they learning about the art through educational programs.
Accessibility: is the collection accessible for viewing by visitors and the public through tours or self-guided visits
Publications: are there published catalogues or information on line about what is in the collection.
Loans and Exhibitions: are the artworks available for loans to one-man or museum exhibitions, or does the company organize exhibitions from their collection for tour
Community: are there community education programs, artist-in-residence programs, or support for the arts projects, for example in conservation, art competition awards, regional exhibitions, museum sponsorships, etc.
Consistency: is there a consistent integrated philosophy behind the collection or is the management subject to changes in the economy or business interests
So here are our picks for the 18 Best Corporate Art Programs Around the World in alphabetical order
ABSA, South Africa
One of South Africa’s largest financial institutions, ABSA is an amalgamation of four financial institutions that took place in the early 1990s. Today, Absa is a highly reputed financial institution on the African continent, whose parent company is Barclays PLC. The Absa art collection is extensive, consisting of just under 20,000 artworks. The majority of the collection is South African,with artworks dating back to the early 1900s, and it provides a narrative of the evolution of the visual arts in South Africa from the turn of the last century until today. In some cases there may be up to 40 works by key artists. The majority are displayed in offices and reception areas, and there is an art gallery in the head office.
When Absa Towers North was built in 1999, the major artworks were commissioned at the same time, and this architect/artist collaboration ensured the successfully integrated visual impact. Two merit award prizes are also offered; a two-month residency on the island of Sylt, the northernmost island in Germany, and a one-month residency in New York through the Ampersand Foundation. Through the Absa Gallery, exhibitions are given to artists and young curators trying to make their careers and build their reputations in the visual arts. They are invited to curate a show in the Absa Gallery. For the past 28 years, Absa has been sponsoring the Absa L’Atelier Art Competition in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts. The competition is open to young and emerging artists aged 21 through to 35. The prize includes a cash component, a three- to six-month residency in a studio apartment in the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and a solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery.
AXA, France – Germany
A French-owned insurance company, AXA operates around the world. Its art program has three elements: collecting; conserving and working with museums. AXA has contributed €48.3 million over the last nine years to safeguarding French heritage, and has enriched public collections with numerous masterpieces. Conservation has been a recurring theme in the company’s activities worldwide.
There art collection in Germany, AXA Konzern AG, was initiated in the mid-1980s and now consists of some 3,200 works by more than 1,200 artists working in a wide range of media and the artworks are displayed throughout the company’s buildings. AXA supports many exhibitions and art fairs including Art Basel Miami in 2006, and the company has an active conference and cultural event program for its employees.
Over 4,000 examples of Mexican art and artifacts from colonial to the present. All media are represented including buildings, folk art and furniture. As the oldest private bank in Mexico, Banamex is part of the worldwide Citibank financial network, but the art collection is administered by the Fomento Cultural Banamex, a non-profit affiliate founded in 1971 to purchase and exhibit art, and promote and protect the artistic heritage of Mexico.
Banamex has preserved several historically important colonial buildings – Casas de Cultura Banamex – such as the Palace of Iturbide, the Casa del Diezmo in Morelia, the palace of the count of the Suchil Valley in Durango, the Casa de Montejo in Mérida, and the home of the Majorat of Cane in San Miguel de Allende. The Palace of Iturbide houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent museum and also has a library, educational workshops, consultation, and video and multimedia rooms.
Banamex has concentrated efforts in the rescue of Mexico’s folk art through programs that encourage and strengthen practices. The folk art collection includes work by 2,500 Mexican artisans from each of Mexico’s 31 states, with 21 indigenous cultures represented. The program provides support for artisans and collects, preserves and promotes folk art. Activities also includes the recovery of the original design, and on urban improvement – comprising the remodeling of facades, as well as educational programs and outreach.
Banco Santander, Spain
The Fundación Banco Santander is a private institution with a cultural commitment that forms part of the policy of corporate social responsibility of the Santander Bank. Among its projects, the Foundation manages, conserves and promotes Santander’s art collection, organises exhibitions and lectures, supports educational programs related to the arts, and contributes to the heritage of the world through its activities with museums and cultural institutions.
The art covers centuries, with works by El Greco, Van Dyck, Tintoretto, Rusiñol, Miro, Picasso, Chillida and Serra among others. . The company recently moved its headquarters, with some 8,000 staff, to Santander City near Madrid and included a 3,000-square-metre art gallery in its design. There is a website and a book about the collection, and it is represented on Google’s online Art Project.
La Caixa, Spain
One of the leading art programs in the world, La Caixa Foundation is based in the bank’s headquarters in Barcelona. The large institution sponsors a great variety of programs and its activities contribute to the heritage of Spain.
La Caixa Foundation has different collections; among them are two public ones and the rest of the collections are internal — In total there are around 9,500 works of art.
The Art at Work program has several collections formed throughout the last 100 years. These works hang in the offices and workplaces of the staff. Plans include a joint venture with MACBA, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, which will lead to joint projects between a private collection and a public one. The resulting educational activities will reinforce the existing work of La Caixa Foundation.
The company has created the concept of cultural centers in architecturally important buildings, including a converted 1912 factory in Barcelona and a purpose-built Caixa Forum in Madrid. There are Caixa Forums in Lleida, Tarragona and Girona, with plans for more.
Clifford Chance, United Kingdom
Clifford Chance activities are modeled on museum practices, and an associated program promotes and supports the printmaking community. There is a dedicated art intranet site for the staff, with in-house lectures and exhibitions, exhibition guided tours, ten-minute discussions and ‘Meet the Artist’ sessions offered to the 700-plus members of its Art Club. The firm sponsors local community art organizations, such as PhotoVoice and Autograph, as well as running postgraduate printmaking and sculpture awards, and it welcomes artists-in-residence.
Deutsche Bank, Germany
Started more than 30 years ago, the art collection of 56,000 works by around 5,000 artists, concentrates on the medium of paper including photography.. Deutsche Bank’s Group Head Office in Frankfurt houses works by more than 120 young artists from all continents, and nearly 90 per cent of all the works in the collection are on view in more than 900 Deutsche Bank locations worldwide and in exhibitions or on loan to 28 museums. 600 masterworks are on permanent loan to the Städel Museum. Exhibitions have toured Europe, the US and South America The current focus of collecting is on emerging artists from all over the world, with an emphasis on South America, Africa and Asia.
To promote young artists the Deutsche Bank and its Foundations have initiated several art prizes.The Artist of the Year award, which was founded in 2010, is devoted entirely to introducing the public to an engagement with new art. Employees of Deutsche Bank are offered a wide range of programs, including selecting work for their environment and taking part in tours and talks about the collection. There is a comprehensive website and a variety of catalogues of the collection.
Itau Unibanco, Bazil
This Brazilian bank is among the 10 largest financial institutions in the world. In 1987 it founded the Itaú Cultural Institute, an independent non-profit organization devoted to the development of emerging Brazilian artists. The Institute is also responsible for managing the art collection of 12,000 works that begin chronologically, with the first documents and iconography from the Portuguese colonial era of the 16th century. These works make up the Brasiliana Collection. Many of the works are located in the company’s headquarters and can be viewed in the general public areas and in temporary exhibitions.
Since the collection makes a significant contribution to the history of Brazilian art up to the present day, the ongoing plan for the future is to acquire works that will fill in gaps in the collection. Staff is involved through an intranet and guided tours, and works are loaned to museums, some of which have sponsorship. The Rumos Project organises community-education programs. There are three books on the art programs and a website.
Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy
It is believed the collection started in 1481 when Benvenuto di Giovanni del Guasta was commissioned to paint Our Lady of Mercy, making it the oldest corporate art program, and certainly one of the best examples of a contribution to the heritage of Sienese art.
The Bank’s art program rests on a magnificent collection of over 27,600 works of art including paintings, drawings, lithographs, sculpture and fine furniture, dating from the 14th century to the 20th century. In addition there are a further 1,851 works belonging to the Chigi Saracini Collection which is also owned by the bank and displayed in Chigiana Music Academy.
The core of the collection constitutes Sienese works from the 14th to the 17th century. In the 20th century, the bank has continued the spirit of patronage and the resulting works are located in offices in Siena and the rest of Italy. Through its acquisition of other banks the company has broadened the collection The collection is extensively catalogued and guided tours are offered to the museum and other works can be viewed by appointment. Given the importance of the collection, the company has organized and supported many important exhibitions and loans to museums.
J P Morgan Chase, United States
The JPMorgan Chase art program oversees more than 30,000 objects in 450 corporate offices around the globe. Modern and contemporary painting, sculpture, works on paper and photography continue to be the collection’s strength.
The collection has grown through the merger of several different corporate collections that included Chemical Bank, The First National Bank of Chicago and Chase Manhattan Bank, among others. Perhaps the most renowned part of the collection has its roots in the former collection of the Chase Manhattan Bank established by David Rockefeller in 1959. By integrating artwork with the architecture of new buildings and incorporating an enlightened approach to acquisitions, this forerunner of the modern corporate collection became a model for other companies, particularly in North America.
The JPMorgan Chase has an active museum loan program, originates traveling exhibitions, provides educational programming for internal and external audiences and supports the company’s worldwide philanthropic and sponsorship activities. The bank believes that arts and culture are the lifeblood of vibrant communities, so the wide range of programs and events foster creativity, provide access to the arts to under-served audiences, promote self-expression and celebrate diversity.
Samsung, South Korea
Certainly one of the most impressive in the world, Samsung’s dynamic art program has created the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; the Ho-Am Art Museum; and PLATEAU; as well as many other cultural and artistic activities, and academic research.The mission of the Samsung Foundation of Culture, established in 1965, is to preserve and promote the achievements of traditional Korean arts, while supporting emerging and established artists in all media and enriching the country’s cultural landscape.
The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art opened in 2004 and is the only art institution in Korea where visitors can appreciate works of art ranging from Korean traditional art to international contemporary art – all in one location. It consists of two buildings designed by Mario Botta and Jean Nouvel, along with the innovative Samsung Child Education and Culture Center designed by Rem Koolhaas, which architecturally reinterpret traditional art and international art and compose a multifunction art space. The diversified educational programs include lectures, family workshops, teachers’ programs and tours. The Ho Am Art Museum opened in April 1982, and this private museum was founded as the permanent home for traditional Korean works of art collected over about three decades. Formerly known as the Rodin Gallery, the PLATEAU, has become one of the central institutions in the Korean contemporary art scene.
Saxo Bank, Denmark
One of Saxo Bank’s core values is ‘Pride’ – pride in one’s job, one’s accomplishments and one’s employer. The bank’s investment in and commitment to innovative architecture, design and visual arts have been central to this goal. As a natural extension of this, Saxo Bank has created a working environment that is welcoming and inspiring. After completing its impressive and award-winning design by 3XN architects, in 2008, Saxo Bank began assembling a striking new collection of art that has become one of the largest and most significant corporate art collections in Denmark. The architecture of its head office in Copenhagen takes Saxo Bank’s cutting-edge profile as its point of departure. In its impressive central atrium, visitors can see several floors of artworks, readily visible from different angles in the immense space.
The Bank has a tradition of sponsorship activities and supports initiatives in arts and literature. In addition to publishing special editions of books that have had a profound cultural influence, Saxo Bank also sponsors innovative artistic projects that stimulate discussion as well as entertain. Saxo Bank believes that art – including fine art, music, literature etc – is the barometer of a culture and that it makes it possible for all individuals to reach their personal goals. Through a comprehensive website, the artworks in the bank’s head office in Copenhagen can be viewed as a virtual visit.
Société Générale, France
The art program began in 1995 when the company moved its 13,000 employees into a new headquarters in La Défense, Paris. It has collected over 1,000 works — 350 paintings, sculptures and photographs, with the remainder being limited-edition original prints. The focus of the collection is artworks by both emerging and established artists.
The company has an active art program for employees that includes an art club with about 600 members, and regular exhibitions with curators, conferences, art days, and educational activities plus a staff photography competition. The art program also features an excellent website, a catalogue of the collection and a significant budget for additions to the collection. Société Générale art program has an emphasis on working with young and older children and students. . The collection is open to all young people with creative documentation and games for the youngest ones to discover contemporary art.
The Seiji Togo, Yasuda Kaisai Museum of Art, forerunner of the present Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art, opened in 1976 when the company included the purpose-built museum on the 42nd floor of its new headquarters in Shinjuku,Tokyo. The museum has developed many exhibitions and educational programs for the staff and children, and the museum is open to the public. Loans are made to other museums and the Foundation also sponsors and provides a number of awards. There are a series of catalogues, an excellent website, and a book about the collection. Sompo Japan makes a major contribution to art heritage in Japan.
Telenor’s art collection features international and Nordic contemporary art, andr has been collecting works since 1998. In September 2002, Telenor ASA officially opened its new Fornebu headquarters, designed by architect Scott Wyatt. The company budgeted £3.55 million for artistic decoration, viewed as essential aspects of the new building. The complex has a unified design, while each block and building has its own distinguishing features. Some of the artists who were commissioned to create site-specific sculptures or artistic decorations included Daniel Burén, Jenny Holzer and Richard Wright.
Art, architecture and design are an integral part of Telenor’s work environment. Telenor creates its own cultural concepts and stages its own productions, bringing together musicians, artists and performers from all over the world. The Telenor Culture Programme has been acquiring a more international profile. In 2007, eighty-six concerts were organised. and Norway, Russia, Montenegro, Thailand, Hungary and Ukraine have all enjoyed concerts staged by the Culture Program. Since 1995, the Telenor International Culture Prize, has given awards for outstanding performances in music, film, literature, visual or performing arts..
Telkom, South Africa
A history of contemporary art in South Africa can’t escape the very politicized socio-economic conditions under which South Africans have lived. The Telkom Art Collection shows work by a range of artists representing different aspects of the spectrum in terms of personal circumstances and opportunities within the recent and local past. Part of Telkom’s business philosophy is a passion for the preservation of the country’s unique artistic heritage. The Art Collection promotes South African art in collaboration with partners in the arts that includes individual artists, academics, community based art organizations and industry bodies such as Business and Arts South Africa (BASA).
The art collection is displayed in Telkom buildings, and the gallery at the company’s headquarters in Pretoria showcases the artworks and other art-related projects. The collection also runs art education programmes for employees and their families. These include workshops on printmaking, paper recycling and making crafts from waste, as well as art therapy workshops, lunchtime talks and exhibitions. Since 2002, hundreds of Telkom shareholders, employees and their children have explored and experienced different art forms at hands-on art workshops. In addition to sponsoring exhibitions,Telkom was also involved in Artists in Conversation, where previously untold stories about South Africa’s artistic heritage have been brought to light through the oral history project. In addition to work by contemporary artists, the collection also includes work by three special areas, unique to South Africa:
USIKO artworks: Rural-based artists were commissioned to re-create indigenous beadwork from over 150 years ago.
Proudly African Ceramics: Ardmore ceramics, started in 1985 and showing the integration of traditional cultural skills with the advantages of Western technology, has led to the development of a unique art form.
Bead Art: Czech glass beads were imported and a 1.8m x 1.2m replica of the South African national flag was created by 12 skilled traditional bead workers. brought in from the Zulu homelands. Using 438,000 beads, the flag is one of the largest beaded items made in South Africa.
UBS has a rich history of actively collecting art and supporting artistic endeavours around the world, focusing on promotion, collection and educational activities in contemporary art. The bank’s impressive art collection of over 35,000 objects includes thousands of contemporary works by some of the newest emerging talents as well as some of the most important artists of the last 50 years.The comprehensive art program includes a global partnership with the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, launched in April 2012, and long-standing commitments to the international art fairs Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Basel Hong Kong.
The UBS Arts Forum enhances the experience of contemporary art with internationally recognised authorities from all fields of the contemporary art scene, such as artists, institutions and markets. Some of the topics covered have been The Art of Collecting; Changing China: New Perspectives on Contemporary Art; Art Houses, Art Structures, Art Institution; Global Players: Stakeholders in the Art World
Through its Culture Foundation, UBS promotes the advancement of cultural activities and artistic creativity, communication and exchange between artists and society, and the diversity of cultural expression. The Foundation supports Swiss artists, foreign artists with permanent residence in Switzerland, cultural projects by professionals that focus on Switzerland as well as the acquisition of significant works by art or cultural-historical museums in Switzerland.
As a result of the merger of several Italian banks and the addition of Bank Austria and Germany’s HVB, the art program of UniCredit, encompassing a selection of over 60,000 works of art, is noted for its commitment to culture over time, with art that spans from ancient artefacts to works by Old Masters and modern masters. In 2004 the emphasis of the art program evolved to focus on contemporary art. UniCredit’s excellent exhibition program has been developed to include artists from many countries in Eastern Europe (Russia, Austria, Poland, Turkey and Germany). The evolving website features a virtual tour, and numerous catalogues have been published. Many artworks can be seen by the public through tours and displays in public areas of the bank’s premises. The art program’s community activities include working with art fairs such as Artissima. There are several UniCredit programs. ‘Art at work’, displaying the artworks in the main branches and offices of the group. UniCredit is committed to supporting the cultural and artistic expressions of the territories in which it operates
Further information about these art programs is available in the latest edition of the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections.. You can order it now at a 30% discount by clicking here