Read this article exploring the top 40 corporate art collections in the world, plus what makes a corporate collection and the history behind them.
Corporate art collections have become a captivating phenomenon in the realm of art and business. From enhancing brand image to fostering employee engagement and showcasing cultural heritage, these collections hold a unique position in the corporate world.
As we delve into the world's largest and most captivating corporate art collections, we will unravel the significance of art as an asset, its impact on corporate identities, and the evolving landscape of patronage in the 21st century.
Have a collection already and want to learn how to manage it? Learn how to manage your Contemporary Art Collection with our Essential 2023 Guide.
Types of Corporate Art Collections
Corporate Art Collections in the Modern Age: Are they still Important and Relevant?
What is a Corporate Art Collection?
Corporate art collections have evolved over time, transitioning from investment-focused endeavours to tools for enhancing employee satisfaction and community engagement. These collections consist of artworks acquired by businesses, ranging from renowned artists to emerging talents.
Unlike personal collections, corporate art is owned by the company itself and can be distributed across multiple offices or kept in a specific location or storage. It reflects the company's values and can also provide insight into its history and the evolving art movements of the time.
Curators with art history backgrounds typically curate and manage these collections, which are acquired by organisations such as banks, companies, and government bodies.
A Brief History on Corporate Art Collections
The first corporate art collection is said to be by Monte dei Paschi bank in Siena originating from 1472. Counting more than 30,000 oeuvres, it was created to give lustre and reputation to the Institute for its secular activities.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the focus of corporate art collections shifted as companies began using art as part of their public relations strategies. To maintain a consistent identity and focus for the collections, art experts were hired to handle acquisitions, ensuring continuity even with changing CEOs.
In recent decades, corporate art collections have taken on another purpose: fostering a positive office culture that motivates and uplifts employees. Companies now invest in art that resonates with their workforce rather than solely aiming to impress clients. Corporate art collections also play a role in supporting artists' careers through commissions and artists-in-residence programs.
Major corporations, following the example set by Chase Manhattan Bank's David Rockefeller in the 1950s, now commonly possess their own collections that reflect their history, brand, or values.
3. Why do Corporations need Art Collections?
Corporate art collections serve various purposes beyond mere investment. While personal taste may have initiated some collections, today art advisors are hired to manage them with specific goals in mind.
1. To contribute to the legitimacy and communication of a company, as well as its specific business strategy.
2. To promote creativity
3. To improve employee morale
4. To enhance the company's public image
5. To support emerging artists.
6. To yield long-term financial returns.
Ultimately, corporate art collections are a powerful tool for business communication and expressing the company's values to stakeholders, employees, and the wider society.
Katz Frey, Microsoft Art Collection via michaelkleinarts.com
Artists Included: Chuck Close, Takashi Murakami, Julian Opie, Cindy Sherman
Originating in 1987 with the intention of enhancing the work environment through art, the Microsoft Art Collection has grown to encompass over 5000 artworks exhibited across 180 buildings worldwide. Reserved exclusively for the delight of employees, guests, and customers, the collection emphasises contemporary art and features a diverse range of mediums such as paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photographs, ceramics, fibre art, metalwork, mixed media, and archival materials.
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Location: South Korea
Artists Included: Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol
It appears that the extensive art collection amassed by the late Samsung chairman, Lee Kun-hee, will remain in South Korea, bringing joy to cultural leaders in the country. The collection, valued at up to $2.7 billion, includes 30 pieces declared National Treasures. Over 20,000 traditional Korean artworks will be donated to the National Museum of Korea, while the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will receive over 1,200 modern and contemporary pieces, including works by European masters. The donation is hailed as "the donation of the century" by museum officials.
Romare Bearden, Three Folk Musicians, Courtesy of Steven Zucker
Artists Included: Romare Bearden, Willie Cole, Evelyn Beatrice Longman and James Rosenquist
The AT&T Corporate Art Collection houses over 8,000 contemporary artworks and reflects AT&T's commitment to communication and cultural engagement. The collection showcases diverse styles and cultures, encompassing significant works from around the world. The collection includes various media, with a focus on new media and contemporary photography. The collection emphasises diversity and represents artists with different creative visions.