The art news coming from Paris during the past month has been filled with descriptions of the new art center that the Galeries Lafayette has opened in the Marais district.
“Anticipations,” as it is called, is meant to cover the broad scope of expectations —from the anticipation of what new work could be created next, to the Fondation Galeries Lafayette’s attempt to anticipate artists’ needs, and even to the larger notion of anticipating the future of the planet. According to Guillaume Houzé, the President of Galeries Lafayette, the combination of retail and art has been part of the retail company since it was founded by his great-grandfather, Theophile Bader, 106 years ago.
“Only creation can consider the movement of an era in its diversity and thus carry us continually to new horizons.” Guillaume Houzé
“We created the Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation as a tool for advancing the conversation in our era and participating in the major social debates through the applied and visual arts. Guillaume Houzé
What makes this artcenter different from Paris’s many other foundations is its commitment to showing new work as well as its interdisciplinary focus. When the Galeries Lafayette was founded 120 years ago, it was a time when all the disciplines including design, arts and crafts, and applied art were seen as more fluid. Accordingly, the foundation will be offering the opportunity for designers, artists, performers, and fashion creators to mix disciplines and processes, as part of a general inquiry into the practices of creation — which will lead to a better understanding of contemporary times.
The Fondation d’Entreprise Galeries Lafayette, run by the French retail chain, commissioned Rem Koolhaas to renovate the historical building at 9 rue du Plâtre, that will be headquarters for the foundation’s cultural arm. The Marais building was erected in 1891 by the architect Samuel Mejot de Dammartin.
Not disturbing the exterior of the 19th century structure, Koolhaas and his firm OMA converted its central courtyard into a steel and glass exhibition tower, fitted with a mobile flooring system that offers 875 square meters of flexible exhibition space. The four independently moving platforms can be rearranged in more than forty different configurations depending on the project, and a 350-square-meter production workshop in the basement offers a space for guest artists to conceive and create work.
Lafayette Anticipations plans three or four exhibitions a year, along with conferences and performances. “The public will discover new works by international creators from the fields of contemporary art, design and fashion,” according to Houzé.
Every three years, the foundation plans to invite guest curators from abroad. On the Lafayette Anticipations curatorial team is Charles Aubin, a French curator based in New York who is also involved with Performa; Anna Colin, an independent curator based in the UK; and the Dutch-Moroccan curator Hicham Khalidi.
The foundation’s managing director, François Quintin, previously worked as curator of contemporary art at the Fondation Cartier, and for seven years headed a contemporary art center in the French regions, FRAC de Champagne-Ardenne. He also directed the commercial gallery Xippas for three years.
The inaugural exhibit by artist Lutz Bacher (the US conceptual artist’s first exhibition in France) was conceived specifically for the entire building, highlighting the verticality of the building, exploring the structure’s symbolic elevation, and focusing in particular on the central void constructed by its architect.
The exhibition, “The Silence of the Sea,” is an architectural intervention involving sound, light and transparent films, focused on the surfaces of the building such as window reflections and bare walls. The title references a novel written by a member of the French Resistance during World War II, which was secretly published in German-occupied Paris and is now a major text of French literature. (until April 30),
Space for Visiting Artists
On the lowest level is an experimental production workshop that provides a space for guest artists to work on new projects. The Foundation supplies tools to support their creation, production and dissemination. Artists can apply to use this workshop where works can be fabricated. Acccoding to Houzé “Artists can work here and show them in the building, or show them elsewhere. Between 2013 and 2016, we did a lot of co-production with other institutions such as the Tate in London and the New Museum in New York.”
The Corporate Art Collection
The Lafayette collection, known as the Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin, is not going to be displayed in the Marais space. The Fonds de dotation, which operates as a separate entity, has acquired more than 300 pieces by artists such as Anne Imhof and Wu Tsang.
‘If the environment that you work in can be improved, then the quality of your employees’ life and their work will improve. Companies therefore need to create a stimulating work environment, …. and the catalyst to create that environment is an art program.’
Michael Klein, curator of the Microsoft Art program, 1999 – 2005
Throughout history, artists have been able to work and were supported by patrons in different ways. In the West, during the Middle Ages the Church was the largest patron of art, and artists were commissioned to create in the service of religion. During the Renaissance, the art patrons were the royal and aristocratic families that used art to glorify their histories and accomplishments.
Today, art and artists have found a totally new patron – the businesses that are realizing that art can transform the workplace and that it should be an integral part of a motivating and productive working environment. They are actively including it in their mission statements and in the context of their broader business philosophy.
Some of these new developments and ways that art has been transforming the work environment around the world, are analyzed in our new course for artists on Creating Art for Non-Traditional Spaces. The course is an essential tool and resource for artists that want to expand their opportunities for commissions and selling their artworks, and protect their cultural property by learning more about copyright, commissioning, licensing, and working with non-traditional spaces.
Here are some of the ways that art has been transforming the workplace.
“Art functions as a catalyst for communication and shows us what might be possible if we let our spirits soar free.”
The AkzoNobel Art Foundation’s mission is to create a more dynamic and inspiring work environment for its employees. The core values and beliefs are that art is forward-looking; encourages new ideas, challenges peoples’ beliefs and ideas, and stimulates creative thinking. With this ideal in mind, an innovative way to structure and organize the collection was developed by working with themes to make it more accessible for viewers. The main themes are color and research, space, and the individual and society. These three themes have been divided into several sub-themes, such as environment or abstraction.
Allens law firm in Australia displays its art throughout the offices, which has inspired partners and staff to start their own collections. Powerful visual statements have been developed and are presented as you enter any Allens office. The Melbourne reception is a large gallery space, with works by artists whose multicultural, non- Western backgrounds highlight the cultural diversity not only of Australia but of Australian contemporary art practice. In Sydney, the vast atrium of the Norman Foster-designed building gave the opportunity to include a highly visible artist project space on each floor. The commissioned site-specific art project dominates the view from glass-fronted lifts, again highlighting the role contemporary art can play in the workplace.
In the Attijariwafa Bank in Morocco, about half of the works are located in the company’s headquarters which includes the Espace D’Art Actua which stages two exhibitions each year that are open to the public. The remainder of the works are on display in the bank’s network of branches throughout Morocco. The Bank’s ‘Academy’ programme, has a teaching cycle of practical workshops and theory of artistic expression, literary writing and multimedia for 100 students in primary and secondary public school classrooms in Casablanca.
The activities of the Banque Cantonale Vaudoise have created a vibrant local art scene. Its collection is both uniform and eclectic – all of the artists have ties to the canton, and includes different generations, styles and technique, and has a strong focus on contemporary talent, supporting artists throughout their careers. Since each of the pieces collected was created by an artist who has lived or worked in the area, the art illustrates both the breadth and quality of the art scene in the Vaud region
“Helping to change a corporate culture using an art program”
Belgacom’s art program has been directed at the employees of Belgacom and the works are displayed in the company’s buildings in Belgium. This art program has been designed to change the psychology of the staff because there had been a shift in the agency from a monopolistic situation to more aggressive competition. The Belgacom Group believed that the presence of contemporary art would encourage this essential evolution. The active educational program includes guided tours, creative workshops for children of the staff and a treasure hunt with clues, and art is often displayed as a screen saver that leads to information on the intranet.
“In the present lies the future – this is the concept behind Helaba’s approach to collecting”
With more than 1,000 works of art, the Helaba Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen first appeared in the corporate art world as a patron of studios for artists in its bank buildings. Helaba has been concentrating on the works of contemporary artists, and the collection highlights lines of development by acquiring entire complexes or groups of work. More recent artistic statements are placed in relation to established ones, as this juxtaposition corresponds to the forms of expression used in contemporary art production. According to Helaba, ‘The main thing is that the art collection touches people and stimulates dialogue.’
An innovative approach has been developed in Turkey. One of Turkey’s largest and leading industrial conglomerates, Borusan Holding, has long been a strong supporter of the arts. It has also achieved a new level of involvement by the staff and general public by creating well-designed display spaces in the office that opens as a museum at the weekend and is staffed by employees on a voluntary basis. Registered as a museum with the government, it opened in September 2011, and its mission is to make the collection accessible to a wider audience and to increase the awareness of flourishing contemporary art in Turkey. Borusan Artcentre/Istanbul, had a residency programme for young visual artists to work in studios open to the public. Ten artists were selected to have a studio space for two years.
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, and as a ressult, Saxo Bank has created a working environment that is welcoming and inspiring. Art works by both established and emerging artists, predominantly young Danish artists, were commissioned and purchased. Saxo Bank also sponsors 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 provides the moment of rest that makes it possible for all individuals to reach their personal goals.”
“For clients and employees, the art collection can be thought-provoking and a stimulus for ideas”
As part of its commitment to encourage young talent, Credit Suisse starts acquiring works from artists at an early stage in their career and the bank supports individual artists over the long term as their oeuvre evolves. Credit Suisse also commissions site-specific artworks for particular locations by inviting artists to submit proposals.
The art that is hung and displayed throughout Credit Suisse premises cultivates a climate that is receptive to innovation and change. For clients and employees, these artworks can be thought provoking and a stimulus for ideas. They challenge conventional modes of perception and provoke discussion. Overall, the Credit Suisse collection represents a corporate culture that advocates open dialogue and enacts its commitment to art in the everyday world.
Reflections on the current diversity of artistic expression in the 21st century”
The art collection is a key component of the corporate culture and mirrors DekaBank’s social commitment in the cultural area. Internationally recognized artists like Liam Gillick and Katharina Grosse were commissioned to create extensive artworks. The focus is on pieces that deal with socially relevant topics or that stimulate discussion about the definition of art within a contemporary context. The collection is displayed at DekaBank’s office buildings in Frankfurt am Main and Luxembourg.
“A creative vision for Latin American and Caribbean regional development with the IDB Bank”
When the centre was established in 1992, its two primary objectives were: to contribute to social development by providing grants to small-scale cultural projects that have positive social impact in the region; and to showcase the artistic expressions of the IDB member countries, with emphasis on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The IDB Cultural Center has become a showcase for the artistic talent of the LAC Region, through cultural programmes that bring understanding between the region and the rest of the world.
Sharing its passion for the preservation of the country’s unique artistic heritage that forms part of its business philosophy
A history of contemporary art in South Africa cannot 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. The Telkom Art Collection promotes South African art in collaboration with partners in the arts, including individual artists, academics, community-based art organisations and industry bodies such as Business and Arts South Africa (BASA). The collection offers art education programs 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.
You can learn more about how art has been used to transform the workplace by participating in the pilot project for the course. For further information click here: