Deutsche Bank’s Art Collection Highlights Prints and Multiples
Different strokes for different corporate folks
Corporate art collections vary in size, medium, importance, and agenda. Deutsche Bank has one of the longest histories of corporate art collecting and is arguably one of the finest. Headquartered in Frankfurt, DB has acquired thousands of young and emerging artists before their prime, including Gerhard Richter, James Rosenquist, and Joan Mitchell. Incidentally, many of the works in the collection have become masterpieces and have accrued in value, some reaching in the millions.
I had the rare privilege of touring the collection at 60 Wall St with the Whitney Museum and previewing two floors, including a special photography exhibition by Hannah Collins. In collaboration with famed chef Ferran Adrià, Collins is the first photographer to merge art and the culinary world. This was a delightful surprise to see, of course, but I was more interested in viewing the art on the executive floors, which featured the shows “Prints and Multiples” and “Original Works,” an installation of artwork from the bank’s collection curated by Liz Christensten.
Prints are often overlooked in favor of other mediums like painting and sculpture; however, a few dozen of the finest prints and multiples were carefully selected by Deutsche Bank from over 3,000 works and proudly displayed. On the main wall of the lobby hung five of Andy Warhol’s Ten Jews screenprints from 1980 of Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Franz Kafka, and Sigmund Freud. I wondered where the other five were as I turned around to see hung in the same room a beautiful colorful expressionistic drawing by Eve Hesse – Untitled, 1963 – made of gouache and watercolor, in perfect condition. As an early work, it was not instantly recognizable like her other works, but no less contemporary. There were other surprises, too, by Alex Katz and Imi Knoebel, who was prominently featured in the recent Art Basel Miami edition at Michael Werner Gallery.
DB’s collection began with German-speaking artists and eventually evolved to a more international scope. The Americas in particular, focus specifically on works on paper, hence the ‘Prints and Multiples’ exhibition on the executive floor but is no less daring and provocative. Richard Prince’s All the Bestseries from 2000, for example, displayed kitschy images of semi-nude female celebrities with fake autographs. Katie Holmes, Gwen Stefani, Cameron Diaz, and Denise Richards are among the ingenues who grace the bank’s heavy wood-paneled hallway, apropo of the artist’s typical hi-lo style.
Contemporary art has distinguished Deutsche Bank since 1978. Unlike most other corporate collections, however DB has most of the art on view but unfortunately not on view all the time. A full-time dedicated staff at each location around the world that convenes semi-annually. The North America branch is headed by Liz Christensen who valiantly manages all the art activities with just two assistants. Their Artwork Program includes lending to museums, acquiring, and maintaining artwork and their Exhibitions Program includes sponsoring and commissioning artists, giving awards, and curating exhibitions around the world.
Although many historical masterworks are kept away from the public, the bank has embraced the 21st century and is working on developing an app, a virtual reality program that can be downloaded where viewers can “walk” around all the floors and preview the art much like you can do when visiting the VIP online art fair. They also have a dedicated magazine called DB ArtMag to cover their artists – another example of their commitment.
I left hungry for more art and with feeling of justice, in a way. Having the Deutsche Bank recognize and actively support prints and works on paper as an estimable and essential medium in the art world will hopefully change people’s perceptions and break misconceptions about art.
Also view article here on EditionedArt Magazine.