When art communicates identity

When art communicates identity

There are some obvious reasons why corporations buy art, but in the last few decades, the number of large corporations acquiring significant art has surprisingly increased in a sociological and cultural phenomenon. Corporate lobbies and board rooms are often graced with impressive art, but why? What's the rationale behind this expense?

Corporate collecting has been around since 1959 when David Rockefeller decided that Chase Manhattan Bank should begin to buy art. Other banks followed his lead and started purchasing art pieces and create collections of their own. This market behavior derived from what is now a common feature in any prestigious company. In 2019, the largest corporate art collection in the world belonged to a bank — Deutsche Bank which owns over 70 000 pieces throughout the years.

Ascaso Gallery

A corporation’s interest in art is most often to build a collection of elements, a get-together, that shapes a symbol and that symbol to be capable of adhering to the highest commercial standards, while it also must consider the needs and style of its corporate personality.

A piece of work may be very suitable for corporate collections if it can reach two or more of the following needs: Reflecting and Enhancing the corporate image of the company, fulfilling the percent-for-law requirements, being a great investment, being pleasing to the eye, and of course, improving the working environment and productivity by decorating workspace walls.

However, many of these things changed ever since. 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 taste and then kept it at the company’s headquarters, hidden from the view of the public and other employees.

Art curator

Not only the company seeks out publicity regarding their collection, but pieces are usually be displayed within the premises so that visitors can see it. When art is properly presented it can create a talking point which opens up a window of opportunity for the company to discuss their involvement in the arts thus further boosting the corporate image.

As corporate collecting begin to take off in the late XX century the focus begun to change. 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 create a statement and send it to clients.

A visually pleasing painting, sculpture or installation is there to start a conversation and show the clients that the company has a good taste. Investing in art exposes the capability of a dynamic company to follows trends. Buying works by young, rising artists is also seen as a great way to show off the philanthropic side of a business.

In words of cognitive neuroscientist Aracelli Camargo: “Any space without change can become un-stimulating with time.” Some updating in space location for the artworks will make the office more visually interesting and subsequently “more neurologically stimulating,” Camargo claims. By using art to make constant little changes, corporations can make people feel as if these work-orientated spaces are constantly evolving.

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