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Dynamism and Modernity

Toshihiro Umezaki is vice president of German Securities Limited in Tokyo and head of Corporate Real Estate & Services/Security. He has been responsible for taking care of the Deutsche Bank Collection in Tokyo since July 2003. Andre Kunz spoke with him on the origins of the collection in Tokyo and the reactions among staff to the concept “Art in the Workplace.”

Toshihiro Umezaki next to a photograph by Yukio Nakagawa, Hakuchu No Zamuza, 1999

Andre Kunz: Herr Umezaki, do you like art?

Toshihiro Umezaki: Yes, I’ve been interested in art since childhood. I used to love to draw and paint.

Kunz: You’ve been in charge of the art collection of Deutsche Bank in Tokyo since July 2003. Have you already had some time to become acquainted with the collection?

Umezaki: I’ve already become familiar with some of the most important works on the various office floors. But I will certainly need several more months to acquire more detailed knowledge.

Kunz: You have around 350 works in your collection. When were these works acquired?

Umezaki: The greatest part was purchased for the move to this building in the middle of 2000. In the process, many Japanese works were purchased, which make up almost two thirds of the collection.

Kunz: Do you work together with a Japanese institution when buying the Japanese pictures?

Umezaki: Not directly. We hired an art consultant, Yoshiko Isshiki, who was responsible for choosing the works. Mr. Hütte, the director of the art department in Frankfurt, advised us on the works of the German-language artists. Ms. Isshiki and Mr. Hütte then planned the presentation of the works in our rooms together.

Kunz: Do you have a special budget for purchasing art?

Umezaki: The works by German-language artists come from the Frankfurt collection and were bought there. For the acquisition of works by Japanese artists, money from the Deutsche Bank Real Estate department was made available. The Japanese works for the most part stem from young emerging artists. They are meant to convey dynamism, modernity, and reliability.

Kunz: As the head of the art collection, do you also have contacts to the art scene in Tokyo?

Umezaki: Only in part. I know a few young artists. In the future, however, I plan to seek out more contact.

Kunz: How do staff react to the concept “Art in the Workplace?”

Umezaki: Although I’ve only been here for a short time, I’ve noticed that the staff here are sensitized to the value of art, thanks to the many works hanging in the hallways and offices. This is rather unusual in Japan. As a rule, workplaces are without decoration and furnished functionally.

Translation: Andrea Scrima