The Symbiotic Relationship of Art and Corporations

posted by – 08/04/15 @ 4:26pm


Warhol, Andy “Cagney” Unique silkscreen on paper 30 x 40 inches A signature part of the UBS Collection of works from the 1960’s

For years, businesses across the globe have collected works of art. But why?

This article from BBC Culture explores the phenomenon of the corporate art collection. Focusing on the collection of UBS Bank, the largest corporate art collection in the world, reporter Alastair Sooke dives into the reasons many corporations today decide to collect contemporary art.

A reason may be that “contemporary art represents a company as dynamic, active and growing – as being part of the world today – and it sends that message to everybody who comes in.” For me this reasoning makes the most sense. Contemporary corporations are progressive entities that serve to further innovation and value for the company and the world around them. Contemporary art also has a similar vein of innovative tendencies coupled with the creation of value for the viewer and the artist.

Some corporations also see it as a philanthropic venture when they purchase art directly from artists, bypassing auction houses and secondary market places, which more directly benefits the artist and communities in which they are involved.

A potential risk involved in collecting contemporary art is that, as art historian Jack Flam said, “One of the most striking qualities of contemporary art is its ability to shock, outrage, and provoke its audience,” which as you might imagine could be troublesome when attempting to accrue new clientele in the corporate setting.

An adherence to a similar artistic aesthetic across all parts of a corporation could help create a brand and create a potentially essential component of a company’s public, and private identity.

Most importantly, I believe, contemporary art serves as an inspiration for creativity. Corporations thrive on this creativity, because we as people are designed to create, specifically to create value for ourselves and others.

To find out more about the UBS collection click here.

Progressive Insurance also has one of the world’s largest corporate art collections. To see details on their collection click here.


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