Art Owned by Businesses: The Changing Role of Corporate Art Collections

Corporate art collections have been around since the 1950s, when David Rockefeller decided that Chase Manhattan Bank should begin to acquire art. Other banks followed his lead and proceeded to purchase art pieces and create collections of their own. Even today, a largest corporate art collection in the world belongs to a bank - Deutsche Bank that has accumulated over 70 000 pieces throughout the years.

But many things changed since the American magnate pioneered the trend. In the past, the selection of artworks was very much reliant on the desires of the CEO, even when art experts were a part of the process. The CEO purchased art that appealed to his or her personal taste and then kept it at the company’s headquarters, hidden from the view of the public and other employees.

 

Painting in Deutche Bank Corporate Art Collection with an employee passing by

Deutche Bank Corporate Art Collection - Business Insider

 

Art that Communicates with Clients

 

But as corporate collecting begin to take off in the 1960s and 1970s the focus begun to change. Corporations started to purchase art as a part of the company’s public relation strategies. To ensure that corporate collection keeps their own identity and focus, even when CEOs change, art experts were hired to handle acquisitions.

Soon boards of directors and head of companies realized that the best way to use corporate collections is to embed them it into every part of the organization. Since many corporate interiors looked the same, artworks on the walls were used to separate companies from the competition. Also, artworks were used to send a message to clients.

A visually pleasing artwork was there to start a conversation and show your clients that you have good taste. Investing in new and trendy artist would convince clients that you are a dynamic company that follows trends. Acquiring works by young, emerging artists was also seen as a great way to show off the philanthropic side of a business.

 

Basquiat at UBS Corporate Art Collection

                UBS Corporate Art Collection

 

Raising the Motivation and Productivity of Employees

 

However, in the past few decades, corporate art collections have assumed another purpose.Art acquisitions have become an integral part of the office culture that is as much about the employees as it is about the clients. Instead of buying art that will impress the clients, companies are now investing in art that will be motivating and uplifting for the employees.

Great corporate art helps companies attract new talents and prevents current employees from leaving the company. Also, in the time, when everybody want to work remotely, art in the office might be just what you need to keep employees excited about coming to work every day.

There have been many studies about the impact of art on employees’ satisfaction. Results of Exeter University’s School of Psychology study had proven that art can improve the employees' productivity by 17%. In a separate study conducted by Cass Business School in London, 64% of employees agreed that art in the workplace made them feel more motivated at work. The positive impact of art on keeping employees happy was also recorded, since over 80% of people questioned said artworks improved their sense of well-being. One of many companies that uses art to keep the spirits high is Norwegian gas giant Statoil, that hung works of contemporary artists on both office spaces and drilling platforms to inspire and delight its workers.

And while big corporations and banks invest millions of dollars into art collections, a recent boom of corporate art rentals proves that you don’t have to be a millionaire to acquire pricey fine art pieces for your office. Art rental businesses provide companies with an opportunity to rent one or several artworks to display at your office for a limited, predetermined period of time. A large selection lets you pick between a wide variety of works, ranging from prominent artists like David Hackney to lesser-known emerging artists.

The price of the lease, depends on the value of the artwork, the number of pieces and the length of the contract. Many rentals also offer the service of rotating the artworks inside the office space. Constantly changing the artwork's place will keep your office fresh and trendy,and your employees curious, inspired and happy.

There’s even a scientific explanation behind the trend. According to cognitive neuroscientist Aracelli Camargo: “Any space without change can become un-stimulating with time.”Periodical rotations of artworks will make the office more visually interesting and subsequently “more neurologically stimulating,” Camargo claims. By using art to make constant little changes, you can make people feel as if their office is constantly evolving.

 

Andrew Holmquist 'Bathers' painting at JP Morgan Chase Corporate Art Collection

                                JP Morgan Chase Corporate Art Collection

 

Commissions and Artists-in-residence Programs

 

Corporate commissions are not a completely new trend. Even back in 1985 Equitable Life Assurance Society commissioned famous artists like Sol LeWitt and Roy Lichtenstein to create artworks for their headquarters. But the trend has definitely risen in popularity in recent years. Software developer Adobe, for instance, recently hired graffiti artists El Mac and Mike Giant, to create branded art for their office.

Facebook has taken it a step further with its unique spin on artist-in-residence programs. The Facebook's artist-in-residence program hosts a variety of (mostly local) artists who are selected to work together with the company's employees to produce artworks for the office walls. These artworks are then acquired by the company that uses them to embellish the space and to communicate the company culture.

 

Why You Should Invest in Corporate Art Collections?

 

Corporate art collecting has come a long way since David Rockefeller purchases his first piece. Today companies invest in art for the benefit of all. Office art provides important support for living artists that often struggle to make ends meet. In return, art helps companies establish better relations with their clients, improve the productivity and motivation of their employees and significantly enhance the brand image.

 

 


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