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Today is One Hundred Years Ago:
Observations on the Art in the Bank Building at Frankfurt's Roßmarkt

Peter Doig, Elisabeth Peyton, Miwa Yagani: Deutsche Bank's "Corporate Cultural Affairs" has recently moved to Frankfurt's Roßmarkt; the art hanging in the new building reflects the profile and history of the bank's art collection.

A different image seems to echo in each of his paintings and graphic works, a different location that has been remembered, imagined, or created in paint: in Peter Doig's print 100 Years Ago (2001) hanging in Dr. Ariane Grigoteit's recently refurbished office, a long-haired man in a canoe gazes back at the viewer; together with the red hue of the boat, his silhouette is reflected in the waves below him. The figure riding along the water could be a hunter; far more than that, however, he resembles a faded rock legend from the seventies, an image from a record cover or a poster someone might have found at a flea market.

Peter Doig, 100 Years Ago, 2001
Deutsche Bank Collection
Peter Doig, Surfer, 2001
Deutsche Bank Collection

Just as speculative as the work's title are the "good old days" the image invokes – in Doig's paintings, personal and collective memories and vestiges of stories merge into dreamlike images of individual moments. The London art critic Adrian Searle termed Doig's work "costumed historical painting," based as it is on snapshots and pictures from films and newspapers. Its scenes are "as fake as a glued-on beard" and make it almost impossible to say for sure where the truth lies – what has been seen or invented, and what we invent ourselves.

Rossmarkt Frankfurt / Mn. um 1910

Rossmarkt Frankfurt /Mn., 1986

It's no accident that Dr. Ariane Grigoteit, director of Deutsche Bank's worldwide art activities, has chosen Doig's canoe rider for her recently furnished office at Frankfurt's Roßmarkt. Like other artists of the younger generation, the artist, who was born in Great Britain in 1959 and grew up in Canada, uses an apparently "classical" medium such as traditional landscape painting, anchoring it in the present in a highly individual way. Antagonistic components maintain an equilibrium of tension in Peter Doig's paintings: abstract and figurative, near and far, the moment and duration, tradition and innovation; together, they turn his work into a highly contemporary expression of a brittle world that can be interpreted in a number of ways.

In times of economic and social upheaval, the question as to what contribution art can make in defining cultural values and bringing divergent traditions, social needs, and ways of seeing the world into dialogue with one another proves all the more urgent. The same goes for corporate culture, as well: beginning last year, Deutsche Bank's worldwide cultural and social activities were unified; since then, they have been coordinated under a single company entity, "Corporate Cultural Affairs." This newly founded entity was finally able to move into its permanent home in April of this year, bringing together the various foundations and departments active in a wide range of cultural and social areas under a single roof; Deutsche Bank Art's office spaces now reside here, as well. The building at Roßmarkt 18 was erected in 1903/04 for the Diskonto Company. Following the extensive changes that took place in city construction during and after the war, the building is today one of the few remaining landmarks on the central plaza of Frankfurt's inner city.

Rossmarkt, Innenansicht

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