Corporate art collections have been around for a long time. They were originally seen as an investment opportunity, but today they can be used to improve employee satisfaction and community engagement. In this article, we will discuss the history of corporate art, how a collection can be an excellent investment, what role they play in impressing clients, and how they can improve the wellbeing of employees.
So What is a Corporate Art Collection?
Corporate art is a collection that a company has acquired over time. It can include works by famous artists, as well as up-and-coming contemporary talents.
Corporate art collections are usually owned by the business itself rather than an individual within it (although this is not always the case). They can be shared amongst multiple offices or kept at a specific site or in storage. A collection is often a reflection of the values of the company although older collections can also speak to the history of the company and the changing art movements around them.
The History of Corporate Art
Originally, corporate collections were considered to be investments for the future because they could be passed down from generation to generation. More recently, they have become more of a branding tool and way to attract talent. Corporate art collections started around the 1950s most notably by David Rockefeller at Chase Manhattan Bank. When Rockefeller started the collection, it was considered unusual, but today most major companies have a collection of some kind.
After Chase Manhattan, other banks followed suits such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Corporate art collections started to take off in the 1960s when more companies started to realize how art could benefit their brand and the company's image. Today, many major companies have extensive collections which are often a reflection of the company's history, brand, or values.
Art for Investment
The majority of corporate art collections are acquired as an investment. Banks recognized this from the onset which is why they were some of the world's first corporate art collectors. Works purchased in the 60s and 70s were able to be resold in the '90s for double or triple the original price. This is around the time the idea of owning art as an investment became cemented in the corporate world.
Today companies still consider contemporary art a good long-term investment that will appreciate over time. There has, in particular, been a growing interest in collecting emerging artists, which can be less expensive than acquiring a more established name. A significant collection can also help a company's image, helping them stay fresh and relevant in the art world which then seeps into other areas of the business.
Image by Artelier Art Consultancy
Corporate Art for Public Relations
Corporate collections can be a great way to improve public relations and the company's image. When companies display their collection, it shows that they are cognizant of what is going on in art today by supporting emerging and famous names. Clients and employees alike can be impressed by a company's collection helping the longevity of the company.
Exhibitions are also often put up for clients, customers, and community members to engage them in conversations around the company's art. This engagement helps companies build relationships within their communities which strengthen ties and can foster long-term partnerships. A significant artwork strategically placed in a lobby or conference room can also be used to impress clients and build relationships with potential business partners.
Interior Decor & Wellbeing
Another reason why companies build collections is to improve the well-being of their employees. Modern offices are often designed with sleek, minimalistic aesthetics in mind that can feel alienating and cold. Art can help to humanize a space by adding warmth and comfort which can greatly increase productivity.
Image by Artelier Art Consultancy
Improving employee's well-being through art is a growing trend and companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn have all built their own collection for this reason. “Our mission with Google is to create amazing work environments and experiences that help Googlers perform at their best every day,” John Moran, Google Real Estate Executive
A well-curated selection of art can also greatly improve key areas of an office such as the lobby; a place where art can have the greatest visual impact with a constant influx of employees, clients and visitors. More and more companies are starting to realize this with some using their collection as a way to win over clients or impress potential talent during job interviews.
Image by Breakfast kinetic art
Art to Reflect Corporate Values
The values of a company can be reflected in its collection, and reflect it's history over time. The companies that started collecting art early on such as Chase and Wells Fargo were able to collect traditional Americana that represented the values of their brand. These banks built large collections with works by artists like Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and other greats which helped them build a respectable image for themselves.
Today many companies are collecting works that reflect their current values, helping to strengthen the connection between a company's culture and its art.
Bringing in a Corporate Art Consultant
As collections grow in complexity and value companies often hire out the responsibility to professional curators. A corporate art consultant can maintain an up-to-date inventory of the collection. While keeping a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing art world.
Consultants can be an integral part of the team and help to overseas large projects such as an exhibition or fundraising initiative. They can also help to work with clients, employees and the community to find ways that artwork can engage them in dialogue about a company's culture.
A consultant will often accompany their client on trips abroad for larger acquisitions which means companies are able to benefit from professional advice before making significant investments into an artwork.
Image by Artelier Art Consultancy
So Why Invest in a Corporate Art Collection?
Investing in a collection allows companies to build an identity for themselves, strengthen their image and reflect the values of their brand. It can help them attract clients which can reinforce their core business strategy; ultimately giving them a better image in the eyes of potential customers. A collection also helps improve employee's well-being which is good for productivity and morale.
If you're still unsure as to whether an art collection is right for your company then you might consider bringing in a consultant to help you make the decision. Here at Artelier, we specialise in all aspects of managing a corporate art collection from initial strategy planning to long-term maintenance. If you require assistance with your collection you can find out more about how we can help by visiting our dedicated corporate art page or simply contacting us to speak to one of our art advisors today.